Diffusion of Innovations

‘When the first edition (1962) of Diffusion of Innovations was published, Rogers was an assistant professor of rural sociology at Ohio State University. He was only 30 years old but was becoming a world-renowned academic figure. In the mid-2000s, The Diffusion of Innovations became the second-most-cited book in the social sciences.

Rogers proposes that adopters of any new innovation or idea can be categorized as innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%), early majority (34%), late majority (34%) and laggards (16%). These categories provide a common language for innovation researchers. Each adopter’s willingness and ability to adopt an innovation depends on their awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption. People can fall into different categories for different innovations.

When graphed, the rate of adoption formed what came to typify the Diffusion of Innovations model, an “s-shaped curve.” The graph essentially shows a cumulative percentage of adopters over time – slow at the start, more rapid as adoption increases, then leveling off until only a small percentage of laggards have not adopted. (Rogers Diffusion Of Innovations 1983)

His research and work became widely accepted in communications and technology adoption studies, and also found its way into a variety of other social science studies. Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm drew from Rogers in explaining how and why technology companies succeed’ (borrowed from wikipedia).

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