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Encyclopedia of Technology and Innovation Management by Gina Colarelli O'Connor, V. K. Narayanan

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Chapter 16. Diffusion of Innovation

C. Anthony Di Benedetto

Temple University

Diffusion of innovation has been defined as "the process by which an innovation is spread within a market, over time and over categories of adopters" (Crawford and Di Benedetto, 2008, p. 241). This definition indicates that diffusion refers to the spread of an innovative product category through a market or a society. (Note that the focus is on product categories, not competitive brands within a single product category.) This definition distinguishes diffusion from a related concept, adoption, which has more to do with processes at the individual level. One can think of diffusion, the n, as an aggregate of the adoption process over the whole market.

The Rogers' diffusion model

The groundbreaking work in diffusion of innovations was done by Everett Rogers and first published in 1962. According to Rogers (1962), several product characteristics will influence its rate of diffusion (these are sometimes called the barriers to diffusion). The most important of these are:

  1. Relative advantage of the new product, as compared with other products with which it is competing. For example, Google was immediately adopted in the Internet community once it was launched, as it was perceived to offer superior search capabilities relative to the available alternatives.

  2. Compatibility of the new product with the end-user's experiences and values. The more innovative the product is, for example, the more incompatible with prior experiences ...

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