Diffusion of Innovations

Diffusion of Innovations


Today, I’d like to promote the theory of Diffusion of Innovations I’ve read about once in Wikipedia as this is an interesting read with an implication on organization and management:

Diffusion of innovations is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures.

I’ve already posted about it in 2012.


Diffusion of an innovation occurs through a five–step process:

1. Knowledge: In this stage the individual is first exposed to an innovation but lacks information about the innovation. During this stage of the process the individual has not been inspired to find more information about the innovation.

2. Persuasion: In this stage the individual is interested in the innovation and actively seeks information/detail about the innovation.

3. Decision: In this stage the individual takes the concept of the change and weighs the advantages/disadvantages of using the innovation and decides whether to adopt or reject the innovation.

4. Implementation: In this stage the individual employs the innovation to a varying degree depending on the situation. During this stage the individual determines the usefulness of the innovation and may search for further information about it.

5. Confirmation: Although the name of this stage may be misleading, in this stage the individual finalises his/her decision to continue using the innovation and may end up using it to its fullest potential.

Implication on Organizations

Three organizational characteristics match well with the individual characteristics above: tension for change (motivation and ability), innovation-system fit (compatibility), and assessment of implications (observability).

Organizations can feel pressured by a tension for change. If the organization’s situation is untenable, it will be motivated to adopt an innovation to change its fortunes. This tension often plays out among its individual members.

Innovations that match the organization’s pre-existing system require fewer coincidental changes and are easy to assess are more likely to be adopted. Where an innovation is diffusing through the organization’s environment for any reason, the organization is more likely to adopt it.

Innovations that are intentionally spread, including by political mandate or directive, are also likely to diffuse quickly.


My conclusion on this: Often I wonder why things advance so slow in organizations. With this theory of diffusion of innovations in mind I do understand that somtimes changes just need their time.

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