224 Diffusion of Innovations Attributes of Innovations and Their Rate of Adoption 225

you like to be the change agent who is responsible for persuading In- dians to eat with gruent with existing practice, there would be no innovation, at least in the
their left hands? Many change agents face equally difficult assignments in promoting mind of the potential adopters.* In other words, the more com- patible an
innovations that run counter to strongly held values. innovation is, the less of a change it represents. How useful, then, is the
introduction of a very highly compatible innovation? Quite useful,
perhaps, if the compatible innovation is seen as the first step in a series of
Compatibility with Previously Introduced Ideas innovations that are to be introduced sequentially. The compatible innovation
paves the way for later, less compatible in-
An innovation may be compatible not only with deeply imbedded cultural values novations.
but also with previously adopted ideas. Compatibility of an innovation with a A negative experience with one innovation can damn the adoption
preceding idea can either speed up or retard its rate of adoption. Old ideas are the main of future innovations. Such innovation negativism (Arensberg and Niehoff,
tools with which new ideas are assessed. One cannot deal with an innovation except 1964) is an undesirable aspect of compatibility. Innovation negativism is the
on the basis of the familiar and the old fashioned. Previous practice is a familiar stan- degree to which an innovation's failure conditions a potential adopter to
dard against which the innovation can be interpreted, thus decreasing uncertainty. reject future innovations. When one idea fails,
Examples of the use of past experience to judge new ideas come from a diffusion potential adopters are conditioned to view all future innovations with
study in a Colombian peasant community (Fals Borda, 1960). At first, farmers apprehension.
applied chemical fertilizers on top of their potato seed (as they had done with cattle
manure), thereby damaging their seed and causing a negative evaluation of the
innova- tion. Other peasants excessively sprayed their potatoes with insec- ticides,
transferring to the new idea their old methods of watering their plants. Compatibility with Needs
Hawley (1946) sought to determine why the Roman Catholic religion, as
offered by proselytizing Spanish priests, was readily ac- cepted by Eastern Pueblo One indication of the compatibility of an innovation is the degree to which it
Indians in Arizona and New Mexico, whereas the Western Pueblos, "after a brief meets a need felt by the clients. Change agents seek to deter- mine the needs
taste of Catholicism, re- jected it forcefully, killed the priests, burned the missions, of their clients, and then recommend innovations to fulfill these needs. The
and even annihilated the village of Awatobi when its inhabitants showed a tendency difficulty often lies in how to feel felt needs; change agents must have a
to accept the acculturation so ardently proffered." Hawley concluded that the high degree of empathy and rapport with their clients in order to assess their
Eastern Pueblos, whose family structure was heavily patrilineal and father needs accurately. Informal probing in interpersonal contacts with individual
oriented, were attracted by a new religion in which the deity was a male figure. clients, client advisory com- mittees to change agencies, and surveys are
Catholicism, however, was incompatible with the mother-centered beliefs of the sometimes used to deter- mine needs for innovations.
Western Pueblos. Perhaps if the change agents had been able to emphasize the female- Clients may not recognize that they have needs for an innovation until
image aspect of Catholicism (the Virgin Mary), they would have achieved greater
they are aware of the new idea or of its consequences. In these cases, change
success among the Western Pueblo tribes. agents may seek to generate needs among their clients but this must be done
The rate of adoption of a new idea is affected by the old idea that it supersedes. carefully or else the felt needs upon which diffu- sion campaigns are based
Obviously, however, if a new idea were completely con- may be only a reflection of the change agent's needs, rather than those of
his clients. Therefore, one dimen- sion of compatibility is the degree to
which an innovation is perceived

*Just such a case is reported by Hahn (1974), who found that the U.S. social studies teachers
he studied rejected educational innovations that were too similar to existing practices. If an
innovation is too similar, it appears to offer no advantage over the status quo.
226 Diffusion of Innovations
Compatibility and Rate of Adoption
as meeting the needs of the client system. When felt needs are met, a faster
rate of adoption usually occurs. The examples just reviewed, and other evidence, support Generaliza- tion
6-2: The compatibility of an innovation, as perceived by

One of the few investigations of a complex of new ideas is Silver- man and Bailey's (1961) analysis of the adoption of three corn- Technology Clusters growing innovations by 107 Mississippi farmers. a major U. and therefore its rate of adoption. Attributes of Innovations and Their Rate of Adoption 227 Statistical analyses of this proposition. the package approach has little empirical basis in Naming an Innovation The name given to an innovation often affects its compatibility. On the other hand. Not enough attention has been paid to what innovations are called by potential adopters. .tion. For instance. get the total yield effects of all the innovations.tions.S. public change agencies gener. usually including improved crop varieties. elements of technology that are perceived as being closely interrelated. less importance in predicting rate of adoption than other attributes. by adopting all at once.growing complex. and to deter. but 8 percent used unsuccessful combina. There is need to analyze complexes of innovations in future fertilizer. such as Naturally. and as a result many serious mistakes have been made. The three ideas (fertilization. to study new ideas in an evolutionary sequence.terrelated and rapidly than they would adopt if each of the innovations had been ideas. the packaging should be based on the user's perceptions of the relative advantage. In the minds of potential adopters. Experience indicates that villagers adopt the package more easily the degree of compatibility perceived by individuals among in. is positively related to its rate of adop. Factor analysis of the in- measuring perceived compatibility. Such egregious errors have shown commercial companies the im. Most farmers either adopted all three of the A technology cluster consists of one or more distinguishable ideas or none of them. show compatibility to be of relatively diffusion research even though it may seem to make sense intuitively. in India and other developing nations. Unfortunately. This result may be in part an artifact of difficulties in innovations.tions) of 1. where the word has an obscene connota. The adoption of one new concurrent use of the other two ideas resulted in lower corn yields than if idea may trigger the adoption of several others.uct to a compatible For instance. agricultural innovations. hybrid-seed. farmers innovations in easier-to-adopt packages.ally refer to it. The Silverman and Bailey suggest the need for change agents to show farmers boundaries around any given innovation are often not very clear. but this has not been done. rather than to treat each new idea separately.mine farmers. even a series of innovations can be used to determine which of the innovations though the correlation was often not significant when the effects of other cluster together. clients. plus the interaction effects of each practice on the others. a change agency the high degree of compatibility among several new products. which control the effects of other attributes of innovations (Table 6-1). and thicker planting) were functionally in- Innovations often are not viewed singularly by individuals. soap company introduced its trademarked product "Cue" into French-speaking nations. They may be terrelated in such a way that adoption of the latter innovation without perceived as an interrelated bundle of new ideas. If this is the case. In most of the studies shown in Table 6. a package of innovation that possesses a high degree of relative advantage. More importantly. distinct.portance of market research to pretest the name for a new product Attributes of Innovations and Their Rate of Adoption 229 228 Diffusion of Innovations The perception of an innovation is colored by the word-symbols used to prior to its release. as Crouch (1981) demonstrated for attributes were removed statistically. a technique that recognizes as closely related to another new idea.bling of diffused individually. compatibility was found to be positively related to rate of adoption.members of a social system.cut or the interrelationships among the three ideas in the corn. one innovation may be perceived Some merchandisers offer tie-in sales. A new clothes might find it useful to promote a cluster or package of innovations to washer may be offered to housewives as a package deal along with a dryer. and other agricultural chemicals. We would then have a sounder basis for the assem. none of the ideas was used.tion. is recommended in toto to research. Some marketing schemes ''hook on'' an unwanted prod. The selection of an innovation's name is a delicate and important do not realize the importance of what an innovation is called. tercorrelations among adopters' time of adoption (or their percep. Australian sheep farmers.

A basic assumption of positioning research is that an individual will behave and its newness.trauterine device. and (2) to One special kind of positioning research is that conducted in order to the characteristics of the new idea that make it similar to. 21) used positioning methods to "Nirodh." terms that were confusing and misunderstood by products A and C. can help identify an ideal niche for an innovation to fill relative to existing ideas in the same field. color. Further. R&D . the X as similar.cepted by perceived characteristics (at least some of them) as changeable. The positioning approach views an in. matter.tion. and C. p. The result was a sharp increase in the rate of perceived attributes of eighteen contraceptive methods in an open-ended. adoption of "Nirodhs. because use of the word "Nirodh" helped overcome the tabooness of con. Words are the thought units that structure our perceptions.novation's The logic here is that if innovations of type X will not be ac. such as the string [a plastic thread used to remove the intrauterine device]. The result was a series of recommendations about which attributes of the copper-T should be stressed in its diffusion campaign. its lack of interference with sexual life. empirical approach to asked to rate each of the eighteen family planning methods (including the naming an innovation. For instance. Harding et al (1973. B. so that a word-symbol that has the desired copper-T. but different from A and C. thus."* unstructured approach. and different provide guidance to R&D activities on what kind of innovations to produce. from. 1973). 237). p. taste. consider a category of existing products consisting of affect its rate of adoption. packag. the womb and with causing an inflammation of the womb" (Harding et al. Research to position new products is often conducted by market condoms had a very negative perception as a contraceptive method. 11). When the government of India decided to promote condoms can be used to ease the introduction of any type of innova. And of she behaves toward other ideas that the individual perceives as similar to the course it is the potential adopters' perceptions of an innovation's name that new idea. should be altered since the string is associated with causing bacteria to enter Taboo communication is a type of message transfer in which the messages are perceived as extremely private and personal in nature because they deal with pro-_ scribed behavior. instance. p. But these positioning techniques disease. This ideal niche is determined on the basis of the new idea's position (in the 230 Positioning research puts the diffusion researcher in the role of Diffusion of Innovations designer (or at least co-designer) of innovations. name (Harding et al. the only new method) on these thirty-nine attributes (which meaning to the audience is chosen. and the like) so as to maximize its distance of an appropriate Korean name. existing ideas. Harding et al (1973. a new intrauterine device in Korea.T. Sometimes a medical or a chemical name is used products A. 1973." and B consumers. and copper is con. First. if we can learn why consumers perceive B and farmers or family planning adopters. 1973. is introduced to the audience for for an innovation that comes from these products.4-D weed spray. its reliability (in preventing unwanted pregnancies). in Positioning an Innovation order to maximize its rate of adoption. X can be positioned (through its "copper-T. perhaps *In part. If other are not very meaningful to potential adopters (unless they are physicians or factors (like price) are equal. For instance. B." "IR-20 rice variety. Thus. For as a contraceptive method. but unlike A and C. 1970 as the most appropriate term for condoms. If a new product.sidered a very base metal and has a for the new very unfavorable perception.tain about one-half of the former chemists)." a Sanskritic word meaning "protection. These researchers also recommended a change in the physical toward a new idea in a manner that is similar to the way he or nature of the copper-T: "Certain features of the copper . and if they perceive X as similar to B. they and then promoted in a huge advertising campaign to the intended au.ing. they pretested a variety of terms. Then another sample of Korean respondents were We recommend such a receiver-oriented. X should at.dience asked a small sample of potential adopters to help identify twenty-nine (Rogers. perceptions of potential adopters) relative (1) to previous ideas. Positioning research. and C in the minds of consumers. introduce the copper-T. 10) recommended stressing the copper-T's long lifetime." was selected. unfortunately. Obviously. included numerous subdimensions of the five main attributes discussed in this chapter). they researchers. and many of the methods for positioning an innovation have were thought of mainly as a means of preventing venereal been developed by commercial researchers. such names then consumers who bought B will be just as likely to buy X as B. medical or chemical research and development. Prior to this time. and thus to gain a unique niche Korean alphabet.cepted. but the introduction of X should not affect the sales of "intrauterine device." was introduced in South Korea without careful consideration name. the positioning of an innovation rests on accurately In contrast. the word "Nirodh" was carefully chosen in India in measuring its compatibility with previous ideas. p. Examples are "2.doms. X. A new in. The letter "T" does not exist in the from A. potential adopters but innovations of type Y will be ac. one could hardly have chosen a worse idea.

232 Diffusion of Innovations Observability is the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others. So WHO conducts diffusion studies of 3: The complexity of an innovation. most contraceptive methods have faced difficult problems of the research evidence is far from conclusive.planation adoption has been generally discourag. in developing nations in the 1960s and 1970s re.port this statement (Table 6-1). workers should concentrate their efforts to develop type Y innovations. Ryan. New ideas that can be tried on the installment plan will Complexity is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as generally be adopted more rapidly than innovations that are not divisible.quired genital Graham (1956) sought to determine why canasta and television manipulation: the intrauterine device. the actual trial of a new idea is of less significance for them. toward developing contraceptives master. which directs a worldwide classified on the complexity-simplicity continuum. is negatively related to its rate of adop- These recommendations are then used to give directions to WHO biomedical tion. Television. These peers may act as a psychological or vicarious trial for the later adopters. the tage. system. in part. In the clear in their meaning to potential adopters while others are not.tunately. Singh (1966). Unfor. Canasta had to be learned through detailed personal ex.tion 6-4: The trialability of an innovation. The results of some ideas are easily observed and Observability communicated to others. Studies by Fliegel and Kivlin (1966a). an injectable required only the ability to turn a knob. Future WHO biomedical from other card players. Trialability Complexity Trialability is the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis. we suggest Generaliza. 1982). Relatively earlier adopters perceive trialability as more important than do later adopters (Gross. whereas some innovations are difficult to describe to others. condoms. An Attributes of Innovations and Their Rate of Adoption 231 example of this approach is provided by the World Health Organization's (WHO) Human Reproduction Unit in Geneva. 1942. The more innovative individuals have no precedent to follow when they adopt. and the diaphragm. as perceived by members of a social system. as perceived by members of a social what types of contraceptives would be accepted if they were available. and hence. Laggards move from initial trial to full-scale use more rapidly than do innovators and early adopters. Some innovations are more difficult to divide for trial than others. Similar results were reported by Singh (1966) in Canada and by main contraceptives promoted by government family planning programs Petrini (1966) in Sweden (Table 6-1). researchers to create a new contraceptive with an "ideal" set of attributes. In spite of the lack of strong evidence. for example. appeared to be a relatively simple idea that that do not require genital han.dling. while the later adopters are surrounded by peers who have already adopted the innovation. Perhaps the lack of compatibility of these contraceptive methods socioeconomic classes. Its procedures were complex and difficult to research has been directed. Kivlin (1960) found that the complexity of farm innovations was For example. Any new idea may be An innovation that is trialable is less uncertain for the adopter. is positively related to its rate of adoption. We suggest Generalization 6-5: The observability of an . for diffused at different adoption rates among the upper and lower instance. relatively difficult to understand and use.ing. contraceptive (Rogers and Pareek. we suggest Generalization 6- acceptability (Rogers. 1973). One reason was the difference in complexity of the two with the value against genital handling is one reason why their rate of ideas. 1948). Some innovations are program of research on contraceptives for use in developing nations. and Fliegel et al (1968) sup. diffusion studies on contraceptives show that men and more highly related (in a negative direction) to their rate of adoption than women in developing nations are very adverse to using a birth control any other characteristic of the innovations except relative advan- method that requires manipulation of human genitals. however. Although past.

(3) the nature of the social system. and usually have relatively slower rates of adoption. Table 6-1 indicated that 49 to 87 percent of the adoption. the technology as material or physical objects. The relationship between communication channels and rate of adoption are even more complicated than Figure 6-1 suggests. adopt fluoridation of municipal water supplies is made by a mayor or city manager. We showed previously in this chapter that one important type of variable in explaining the rate of adoption of an innovation is its The type of innovation-decision is related to an innovation's rate of perceived attributes. A technology is a design for instrumental action that reduces the uncertainty in the cause-effect relationships involved in achieving a desired outcome. as perceived by members of a social system. The at- tributes of the innovation and the communication channels probably . if interpersonal channels must be used to create awareness-knowledge. In optional innovation-decision will be adopted more rapidly than when an addition to these perceived attributes of an innovation. and (2) a software aspect that consists of the information base for the tool.munication involved in making an innovation-decision. Nature of the Social System Rate of adoption is the relative speed with which an innovation is (e. Most of the innovations studied in diffusion research are technological ideas. A paradigm of variables determining the rate of adoption of an innovation. Communication Channels (e. trialability. the rate of adoption is quicker than when the decision is made collectively by a public referendum. so innova. The more persons as (1) the type of innovation-decision. affect an instance. compatibility. innovations. Usually the software component of a technological innovation is not so apparent to observation.. it has been found in the United States that when the decision to innovation's rate of adoption (Figure 6-1). complexity.g. and observability). one route to speeding the rate of adoption is to attempt to process. III. An example. the rate of adoption will be slowed.tions in which the software aspect is dominant possess less observabil. mass media or Explaining Rate of Adoption interpersonal) IV. For agents' promotion efforts in diffusing the in. Extent of Change Agents' Promotio n Efforts number of individuals who adopt a new idea in a specified period. its norms.. the slower the rate of channels diffusing the innovation at various stages in the innovation-decision adoption.tion curve for Figure 6-1. is positively Attributes of Innovations and Their Rate of Adoption 233 related to its rate of adoption.ity. A technology has two components: (1) a hardware aspect that consists of the tool that embodies. It is generally measured as the V. is computer hardware (the equipment) and software (the computer programs). For example. So rate of adoption is a numerical indicant of the steepness of the adop. as frequently occurs among later adopters.novation. (2) the nature of com. and (4) the extent of change alter. If so.innovation.g. the unit of decision so that fewer in. degree of interconnectedness. such other variables innovation is adopted by an organization (Chapter 10).dividuals are involved. cited in Chapter 1. etc adopted by members of a social system. We generally expect that innovations requiring an individual- variance in rate of adoption is explained by the five attributes (relative advantage. The communication channels used to diffuse an innovation also may have an influence on the innovation's rate of adoption (Figure 6-1).

Mass media channels. a slower rate of adoption resulted. Stone (1952) and Petrini (1966) show that the greatest response to change agent effort occurs when opinion leaders are adopting. As yet. Especially important are the norms of the system and the degree to which communication network structure displays a high degree of interconnectedness. as we discuss in the following sec.zines. which usually occurs somewhere between 3 and 16 per. is not usually direct and linear.tion on the diffusion effect.cent adoption in most systems. such as mass media channels. for complex ideas.234 Diffusion of Innovations interact to yield a slower or faster rate of adoption. There is also a further consideration (see Figure 6-1): the nature of the social system. The relationship between rate of adoption and change agents' efforts. were satisfactory for less complex innovations. but interper. such as agricultural maga. however. There is a greater pay- off from a given amount of change agent activity at certain stages in an in. And if an inappropriate channel was used. For example.novation's diffusion.sonal contact with extension change agents was more important for innovations that were perceived by farmers as more complex. there has been very little diffusion research designed to determine the relative contribution of each of the five types of variables (shown in Figure 6-1). Petrini et al (1968) found differences in communication-channel use on the basis of the perceived complexity of innovations among Swedish farmers. an innovation's rate of adoption is affected by the extent of change agents' promotion efforts. Last. as suggested by Figure 6-1. .