Homework Index


Diffusion of Innovations
and Related Theories

Diffusion of Innovations

The path of innovation is not a smooth uphill climb. At the point of adoption, the value of an innovation is negative. At this point cost has been incurred for scanning, selection, and commitment (Rogers 2003, p. 14). But no benefit has yet resulted. Positive value derives only from actual use pursuant to the mission of the individual or organization.

At implementation time, alignment between the innovation and the individual or organization may be poor. Examples of poor alignment include:

  • A cumbersome interface between the individual and the technology, resulting in confusion or additional work to accomplish the job.
  • Lack of knowledge about how to use the technology efficiently, resulting in reduced efficiency.
  • A technology whose product is not what the organization needs, resulting either in failure to accomplish the mission or reduced efficiency.
  • Increased workload due to parallel runs of old and new systems.

Adjusting alignment for maximum effect may involve changes in the innovation, changes in its use, changes in understanding of the innovation, or even changes in the organization's mission. This process of adjustment is, due to its multidimensional nature, necessarily "messy" and difficult to study. Yet it is a critical part of deriving benefit from innovations.

While numerous research studies have considered initial adoption and implementation of new technologies, they usually treat each technology as a discrete entity unrelated to previous technologies used. This is best indicated by the fact that they fail to specify the technology being replaced. However, innovations do not exist in a vacuum. Innovations are usually adaptations or extensions of existing technology. They are likely to be invoked in an atmosphere involving substantial existing technology. Rogers (2003, p. 15) suggests that it is appropriate to do research which takes existing technology into account. Accordingly, this research focuses on a change from one version of a technology to another: a software system upgrade.