The Diffusion of Innovation, 5th ed by Everett Rogers

Chapter 4. The Generations of Innovations

  • The innovation process starts long before adopter decisions are made. Needs and problems are recognized and basic and applied research take place. R & D decisions have a great impact on the diffusion phase. Basic research may happen long before anyone identifies needs and problems. Some person or group then develops a product and some company decides to commercialize it. Not all products make it and the company that develops a product may not be the one to commercialize it. At this point the adoption curves kicks in followed by the consequences of the adoption or the failure of the innovation.

Innovation Clusters

  • Anyone who studies innovations needs to be aware of the fact that innovations are seldom singular in nature. An innovation would often not be possible without a number of other previous innovations. For example, the heart pacemaker was an innovation cluster that depended upon the prior invention of transistors, compact batteries, and other developments. This functional interdependence of innovation clusters is often overlooked by diffusion scholars who investigate single innovations.

Chapter 5. The Innovation Decision Process

  • One must learn by doing the thing, for thought you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. Sophocles, 400 B.C.
  • This process passes through gaining knowledge, forming an attitude towards an innovation, making a decision to adopt or not, implementation of the new idea, and confirmation of the decision. The behavior consists essentially of dealing with uncertainty that is inherently involved in deciding about a new alternative to an idea the was previously in existance.

The Knowledge Stage

  • Most people tend towards selective exposure, which is defined as the tendency to attend to communication messages that are consistent with the individual’s existing attitudes and beliefs. Sometimes information is passively acquired and other times it is actively sought. People also engage in selective perception, which is the tendency to interpret messages in terms of one’s existing attitudes and beliefs. Needs may precede awareness (e.g. Pesticides) or awareness may create a need (e.g. fashion)

Knowledge Types

  • Awareness-knowledge: This is information that the innovation exists.
  • How-to-knowledge: This consists of information needed to use an innovation properly. The amount varies with the complexity of the innovation.
  • Principles-knowledge: This is information dealing with the functional principles underlying how an innovation works. It is usually possible to adopt an innovation without this kind of knowledge but without it there is a much greater danger of misuse and discontinuance.

The Persuasion State

  • One’s attitude is a relatively enduring organization of an individual’s beliefs about an object that predisposes one’s actions. The main kind of feeling at this stage is affective as opposed to cognitive. Selective perception in important here as perceived attributes of an innovation will reveal its relative advantage, compatibility, and complexity. A cue-to-action event can crystallize a favorable attitude toward overt behavioral change. (e. g. A relative dying from lung cancer may trigger someone to stop smoking.)

The Decision Stage

  • Adoption is a decision to make full use of an innovation as the best course of action available. The opposite is rejection, which can be active if you consider it and perhaps try it, or passive if you never really consider the use of an innovation. The actual process is somewhat culture-bound. Individualistic cultures are those where an individual’s goal takes precedence. Collectivistic cultures are just the opposite.

The Implementation State

  • Implementation involves an overt behavior change as the new idea is put into practice. After a period of time the new idea becomes institutionalized as a regular part of an adopter’s ongoing operations. Depending on the nature of the innovation it may be subject to re-invention during this stage. A higher rate of re-invention leads to faster adoption and a higher degree of sustainability.

The Confirmation Stage

  • At this stage reinforcement is sought for the decision that was made. At this stage the innovation may also be rejected. Individuals tend to seek supportive messages that will prevent them from feeling dissonant about their decision. If discontinuance occurs it can be caused by the replacement of a better innovation or the return to the previous state.

The Attributes of Innovators

  • What characteristics of innovations affect the rate at which they are adopted? Most of the variance in the rate of adoption in innovations (49% to 87%) is explained by five attributes: relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability.

Relative Advantage

  • The initial cost may affect adoption rate. Adoption rates are often accelerated as prices go down. The VCR cost $1,200 in 1980 and $50 in 2002.
  • The desire to gain social status motivates many to adopt an innovation.Clothing fashions, cars, and hairstyles are good examples.
  • Relative advantage is an important part of message content as individuals seek information in order to decrease uncertainty about relative advantage.

Preventive Innovations

  • Relative advantage has been found to be one of the strongest predictors of an innovation’s rate of adoption. It is a ratio of the expected benefits and the cost of adoption. This is why preventive innovations generally have a slow adoption rate. The advantage is difficult for change agents to demonstrate as there is a long time lapse before beneficial consequences are felt.Examples are stopping smoking, using seat belts, cancer screenings, flossing, contraception, and getting inoculations.

  • The main function of an incentive is to increase the degree of relative advantage. They can be paid to the adopter or someone who persuades the adopter. They can be paid to an individual or to the system to which they belong. Most are positive in nature but they can be negative.Monetary incentives are the most common. They can also be immediate or delayed.

Incentive Issues

  • If individuals adopt an innovation partly in order to obtain an incentive, there is relatively less motivation to continue using the innovation (if it can be discontinued) and so the innovation’s sustainability may be lessened. Paying incentives often involves serious ethical issues.


  • This is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters. An innovation’s incompatibility with cultural values can block its adoption. It doesn’t matter if a new rice yields three times the quantity if it doesn’t taste as good.
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