Diffusion of Innovations
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Describe the Diffusion of Innovation Theory.
- Speed at which a new idea (innovation) spreads through a population determined by-
- Characteristics of the innovation itself
- Communication channels
- Time (where we are in the process)
- Social system
- Descriptive (explanatory theory); describes naturally occuring process
- How farmers adopted new hybrid corn (new program/knowledge)
What is an "innovation" in health promotion?
- New ideal; novel (avoid, trans fat)
- New technology for accomplishment something (sunscreen, portion controlled snack packaging, new safety mechanisms - air bags)
Describe the best-known aspect: pattern of adoption over time.
- Early adoptors
- Early majority
- Late majority
- Assumes most/all will get there
Describe the implications of this familiar curve.
- At first innovation adopted slowly (innovators/early adopters)
- Later, speed picks up
- Implies that eventially everyone adopts (laggards)
- Not necessarily true; some innovations will stall, or be supplanted, or disappear
- Start, then something better comes along
- Doesn't typically act like the model suggests
How does this theory relate to theory of "social norms"?
- In early stages, adoption of innovation is not the norm- later may become the norm
- Early adoption in the curve isn't the "norm" - not motivated by others' wanting to be like others
- People in categories are different from others (5 groups)
Describe how diffusion of innovations emphasizes characteristics of the innovation itself.
Desirable characteristics will lead to adoption even before it is normative.
Describe the application of the theory.
- Originally used to describe adoption of an innovation by individuals
- Can also be used to describe adoption of an innovation by organizations
List examples of some current voluntary innovations among organizations.
- Joint use agreements opening school facilities for public use)
- Placing fruits and vegetables in corner stores
- Health promotion activities in churches
- Faith-based organizations
Describe the characteristics of the innovation which enhance adoption.
- Compatability: consistent with current values and practices
- Communicability: easy to learn about; packaged
- Impact on social relations: should not disrupt social customs - shouldn't change things too much
- Relative advantage: better than existing alternatives
- Reversibility & trialabilitity: if you don't like it you can discontinue early
- Risk and uncertainty: low risk but effective
- Won't have all, but will make it go faster
Describe the characteristics of the innovation which enhance continued use.
- Complexity: shouldn't be complex to implement
- Time: minimal time investment by adopting organization
- Commitment: minimal commitment (reversibility)
- Modifiability: organizations should be able to modify & adapt innovation to circumstances
- Observability: users should be able to see that it works
Not every innovation will have every characteristic. List the desired characteristics.
- Impact on social relations
- Relative advantage
- Reversibility & trialability
Describe the additional implications of applying Diffusion of Innovation Theory to organizations.
Concept of "social system" as applied to organizations
- How is an organization part of a social system?
- --- Peer groups of similar organizations
- --- System of relationships with organizations
What other organizations influence my target organization, how can I facilitate that?
Church is part of a community (larger network)
Describe strategies for invoving a social structure.
How would this aply to health promotion in churches?
Influence of peer group, i.e., what other local churches are doing
- Influence of other important organizations (network)
- --- National organizations
- --- Local affiliations with charitable organizations (United Way, local charities)
- --- Community or local interest organizations (local coalitions)
Describe additional implications of applying Diffusion of Innovation Theory to organizations.
- What are the "Communication channels" as applied organizations? How do organizations communicate?
- --- Regular media (tv, newspapers, web)
- ---Interest groups, newsletters
- ---Professional meetings of key actors
- When working with organizations, may need to creat communication channels
- --- Meetings, conferences, directed newsletters
- --- Encourage "early adopters" to communicate with peers
- Media that impacts individuals also influence
- Other approaches too
Describe using Diffusion of Innovation as a "change theory".
- Examine characteristics of the innovation - can it be modified consistent with the model?
- Examine the social system in which the organization operates - what elements could be brought to bear?
- Examine the communciation channels - can they be enhanced or modified, or used?
- Where are we on the timeline? Are there some "early adopters" who can discuss their experience?
- Social systems and network of organization
- Having a champion is useful
Describe the Diffusion of Innovation Theory in action.
- Suppose you wanted to encourage small food markets in a local area to offer a wider range of low-fat food choices
- How could Diffusion of Innovation Theory hel guide you in working with these markets
- Consistent with mission
- Increase revenue
- One owner has multiple stores
- Do store owners talk to others?
- Being consistent with usual trends (snack foods/healthier alternatives) vs. odd choices (kale)
- Success stories
- Competition - don't get left behind
- Create a marketing plan that can be esily adopted and modified
- Sell better than existing alternatives (use WIC coupons, buy other products) - neighborhood going elsewhere because products are not available locally
Describe key Diffusion of Innovation Theory concepts.
- Viewing organizations as part of a social system
- Examining the characteristics of the innovation itself
- Helps make it adaptable
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