Diffusion of Innovation


Diffusion of Innovation

Definition of Diffusion of Innovation

In his comprehensive book Diffusion of Innovation, Everett Rogers defines diffusion as the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system. Rogers’ definition contains four elements that are present in the diffusion of innovation process.

The four main elements are:

(1) Innovation – an idea, practices, or objects that is perceived as knew by an individual or other unit of adoption.

(2) Communication Channels – the means by which messages get from one individual to another.

(3) Time – the three time factors are:
(a) innovation-decision process
(b) relative time with which an innovation is adopted by an individual or group.
(c) innovation’s rate of adoption.

(4) Social System – a set of interrelated units that are engaged in joint problem solving to accomplish a common goal.


1.The Innovation

An innovation is an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption

Characteristics of the innovation that relate to diffusion and adoption

1) Relative advantage is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes. The greater the perceived relative advantage of an innovation, the more rapid its rate of adoption will be.

2) Compatibility is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters.

3) Complexity is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult to understand and use. New ideas that are simpler to understand are adopted more rapidly than innovations that require the adopter to develop new skills and understandings.

4) Trialability is the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis. New ideas that can be tried on installment plan will generally be adopted more quickly than innovations that are not divisible. An innovation that is trialable represents less uncertainty to the individual who is considering it for adoption, as it is possible to learn by doing.

5) Observability is the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others. The easier it is for individuals to see the results of an innovation, the more likely they are to adopt

  1. Communication Channels

The essence of the diffusion process is the information exchange through which one individual communicates a new idea to one or several others. At its most elementary form, the process involves

(1) An innovation,

(2) An individual or other unit of adoption that has knowledge of, or has experienced using, the innovation,

(3) Another individual or other unit that does not yet have knowledge of, or experience with, the innovation, and

(4) A communication channel connecting the two units.

A communication channel is the means by which messages get from one individual to another. The nature of the information exchange relationship between a pair of individuals determines the conditions under which a source will or will not transmit the innovation to the receiver and the effect of such a transfer. Mass Media channels are all those means of transmitting messages that involve a mass medium, such as radio, television, newspapers, and so on, which enable one or a few individuals to reach and audience of many

  1. Time

It is involved in diffusion in three ways:

  1. The innovation-decision process

The innovation-decision process by which an individual passes from first knowledge of an innovation through its adoption or rejection

the process through which an individual passes from first knowledge of an innovation, to the formation of an attitude towards the innovation, to a decision to adopt or reject, to implementation and use of the new idea, and to confirmation of this decision. We conceptualize five main steps in the innovation-decision process:

(1) knowledge,

(2) persuasion,

(3) decision,

(4) Implementation,

(5) Confirmation

Rogers defines the innovation-decision process as the “process through which an individual (or other decision making unit such as a group, society, economy, or country) passes through the innovation-decision process”.

  1. Knowledge In this stage the individual is first exposed to an innovation but lacks information about the innovation. During this stage of the process the individual has not been inspired to find more information about the innovation.
  2. Persuasion In this stage the individual is interested in the innovation and actively seeks information/detail about the innovation.
  3. Decision In this stage the individual takes the concept of the change and weighs the advantages/disadvantages of using the innovation and decides whether to adopt or reject the innovation. Due to the individualistic nature of this stage Rogers notes that it is the most difficult stage to acquire empirical evidence
  4. Implementation In this stage the individual employs the innovation to a varying degree depending on the situation. During this stage the individual determines the usefulness of the innovation and may search for further information about it.
  5. Confirmation Although the name of this stage may be misleading, in this stage the individual finalizes his/her decision to continue using the innovation and may end up using it to its fullest potential.
  1. Innovativeness “the degree to which an individual or other unit of adoption is relatively earlier in adopting new ideas than other members of a social system.”

Adopter categories, the classification of members of a social system on the basis of innovativeness, include

  1. Innovators
  2. Early adopters
  3. Early majority
  4. Late majority
  5. Laggards
  1. Innovators– First to adopt; they are willing to take risks, young, have financial lucidity, are social and have closest contact to scientific sources and interaction with other innovators
  2. Early Adopters– Second to adopt; socially forward, have highest degree of opinion leadership, slightly more discrete, interested in being established as up-to-date
  3. Early Majority– Adopt after a varying degree of time; have above average social status, contact with early adopters
  4. Late Majority– Adopt after the average member of the society; highly skeptical, have below average social status, little financial lucidity
  5. Laggards– Last to adopt; show little to no opinion leadership, have an aversion to change-agents, tend to be older, tradition-focused

III. Innovation’s rate of adoption

The Adoption Process

In his book Diffusion of Innovations, Rogers defines the diffusion process as one “which is the spread of a new idea from its source of invention or creation to its ultimate users or adopters”. Rogers differentiates the adoption process from the diffusion process in that the diffusion process occurs within society, as a group process; whereas, the adoption process is pertains to an individual. Rogers defines “the adoption process as the mental process through which an individual passes from first hearing about an innovation to final adoption”.

Five Stages of Adoption

Rogers breaks the adoption process down into five stages. Although, more or fewer stages may exist, Rogers says that “at the present time there seem to be five main functions”. The five stages are:

(1) Awareness,

(2) Interest,

(3) Evaluation,

(4) Trial, and

(5) Adoption.

In the awareness stage “the individual is exposed to the innovation but lacks complete information about it”. At the interest or information stage “the individual becomes interested in the new idea and seeks additional information about it”. At the evaluation stage the “individual mentally applies the innovation to his present and anticipated future situation, and then decides whether or not to try it”. During the trial stage “the individual makes full use of the innovation”. At the adoption stage “the individual decides to continue the full use of the innovation”.

Rejection and Discontinuance

Of course, as Rogers points out, an innovation may be rejected during any stage of the adoption process. Rogers defines rejection as a decision not to adopt an innovation. Rejection is not to be confused from discontinuance. Discontinuance is a rejection that occurs after adoption of the innovation.

Rogers synopses many of the significant research findings on discontinuance. Many “discountenances occur over a relatively short time period” and few of the “discountenances were caused by supersedence of a superior innovation replacing a previously adopted idea”. One of the most significant findings was research done by Johnson and Vandan Ban (1959):

The relatively later adopters had twice as many discountenances as the earlier adopters. Previous researchers had assumed that later adopters were relatively less innovative because they did not adopt or were relatively slow to adopt innovations. This evidence suggests the later adopters may adopt, but then discontinue at a later point in time.

Rogers identifies two types of discontinuance:

(1) Disenchantment discontinuance – a decision to reject an idea as a result of dissatisfaction with it’s performance, and

(2) Replacement discontinuance – a decision to reject an idea in order to adopt a better idea.



  1. Social System
  • “a set of interrelated units that are engaged in joint problem solving to accomplish a common goal.” (Rogers, pp.37)
  • Every system has a structure, a patterned arrangements of the units in a system.
  • “The social and communication structure of a system facilitates or impedes the diffusion of innovations in the system.” (Rogers, pp.37)
  • An important aspect of social structure is norms, which is “the established behavior patterns for the members of a social system.” (Rogers, pp.37)
  • Opinion leadership is an “individual able to influence informally other individuals’ attitudes or overt behavior in a desired way with relative frequency.” (Rogers, pp.37-38)
  • Change agent is an “individual who attempts to influence clients’ innovation-decisions in a direction that is deemed desirable by a change agency.” (Rogers, pp.38)
  • Aide “is a less than fully professional change agent who intensively contacts clients to influence their innovation-decisions.” (Rogers, pp.38)

Four main types of innovation-decisions:

  1. Optional innovation-decisions

A choice to adopt or reject a new idea made by an individual independent of the decisions from other members in the system.

  1. Collective innovation-decisions

A choice to adopt or reject a new idea made by consensus of the majority in the social system.

  1. Authority innovation-decisions

A choice to adopt or reject a new idea that is made by few individuals in a system who possess power, status, or technical expertise.

  1. A fourth type innovative-decision can be considered where it is a combination of two or more of these three types called, Contingent innovation-decisions, which are choices that are either adopted or rejected made only after a prior innovation-decision.

Consequences are “changes that occur to an individual or a social system as a result of the adoption or rejection of an innovation.” (Roger, pp.38

The New Learning about Innovation

Mark Dodgson and John Bessant in their book “Effective Innovation Policy: A New Approach” recognize that `success’ in innovation is not simply a matter of moving a resource from A to B, but “the capability on the part of the recipient to do something useful with that resource”, in other words, to innovate effectively.

Dodgson and Bessant acknowledge that innovation is not an “instantaneous event, but a time-based process involving several stages”. They have identified these stages as:

(1) Initial recognition of opportunity or need,

(2) Search,

(3) Comparison,

(4) Selection,

(5) Acquisition,

(6) Implementation, and

(7) Long-term use (involving learning and development).


The diffusion of innovation process consists of four main elements: the innovation, communication through certain channels, over time, and among the members of a social system. Research concerning the diffusion of innovation process has increased significantly the past several decades due to its’ versatility. A universality or similarity found amongst the various research studies on the diffusion of innovation process is that the adoption process or the rate of diffusion can be charted on an S-shaped curve.

Of vast importance to those in the advertising field is the innovation-decision process. Rogers defines the innovation-decision process as the process through which an individual passes from first knowledge of an innovation to forming an attitude toward the innovation, to a decision to adopt or reject, to implementation and use of the new idea, and to confirmation of this decision.

The diffusion of innovation process can be tracked on a micro level as is the case of an individual who is a targeted member of an audience, or traced at the macro level when considering economic development or technological advances. In either instance, during the course of the twentieth century the diffusion of innovation theory has proven to be versatile, universal, but most important relevant.



Amendola, Mario and Jean-Luc Gaffard (1988). The Innovative Choice. An Economic Analysis of the Dynamics of Technology. Basil Blackwell Limited.UK.

Davies, Stephen (1979). The Diffusion of Process Innovations. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

Dodgson, Mark and John Besssant (1996). Effective Innovation Policy: A New Approach. International Thompson Business Press, London.

Elgar, Edward (1995). Economic Approaches to Innovation. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited. UK.

Gomulko, Stanislav (1971). Inventive Activity, Diffusion, and Stages of Growth. Institut of Economics, Asrhus University, Denmark.

Mansfield, Edwin (1995). Innovation, Technology and the Economy. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited. UK.

Panth, Sanjaya (1997). Technological Innovation, Industrial Evolution, and Economic Growth. Garland Publishing, Inc. New York.

Rogers, Everett M. “New Product Adoption and Diffusion”. Journal of Consumer Research. Volume 2 March 1976 pp. 290 -301.

Rogers, Everett M. (1962). Diffusion of Innovations. The Free Press. New York.

Zaltman, Gerald and Robert Duncan and Johnny Holbek (1973). Innovations and Organizations. John Wiley & Sons. New York.




















  • Definitions

The word defined by different scholars in different time by various ways but some of it prints in the following phrase;

Psychologist Roger Brown defines as the symbolic operation designed to create action in other sentiments is called propaganda.

While Lasswell defined propaganda as to control the mind of the public, through spoken, written, pictorial, musical representation of the orator, writer and performer.

In simple words propaganda is a struggle to construct public estimation in support of a fastidious interest.

  • Synonyms of the term

The other terms using as synonyms for the propaganda are;

  1. “Psychological warfare”
  2. “The War of Wit”
  3. “ideological Warfare”
  4. “The Battle for Men’s Mind ”
  5. “Political Warfare”
  6. “Educational Warfare”
  7. “Religious Warfare”
  8. “Military Warfare”
    • Different kinds of Propaganda

The different kinds of propaganda are presents in the following way;

  1. Kinds from source point of view:
  • White propaganda

In this technique of propaganda the exact causes and resources of propaganda are notorious or known.

  • Black propaganda

In the black propaganda approach the activist is show as group instead of individual.

  • Gray propaganda

In this kind of tactic, the actual factors of the propaganda are hide and secret and other individual or group is working on front line.


  1. Kinds From Time point of view:
  • Tactical propaganda;

This is method use for the short term access or immediate purpose and usually applying on homogenous group in the society.

  • Strategic propaganda;

This type of technique is using for the long term objective, aims and purposes. It usually spread among heterogeneous people of the acuity.

  • Consolidation propaganda;

In this tactic the propagandist tries to disseminate messages in elite force to establish military government in the area.

  1. Kinds From Operational point of view:
  • Offensive;

According to this sort, the operator is wants to attack on the enemy by the use of propaganda.

  • Defensive;

As well as to spoil the propaganda the defender also use the technique of defensive from to safe themselves.

  1. Kinds Purpose Point of view:
  • To disseminate fear and terrier among the public
  • To encourage third force in the battle
  • To persuade individuals power.
  • To confuse the public in time of crisis
  • To harass the political leadership
    • Usage of Media in Propaganda

The Media critics and propagandist are commonly classified media of propaganda in two categories:

Slow Media: in the slow media of propaganda, the communication scholars includes all the print media such as Newspapers, books, magazines, pamphlets, handbills, posters, speeches and lectures in different shapes in different places.

Fast Media: according to the communication scholars and propagandist critics the fast media are comprises on electronic media and satellites communication.

  • ‘Propaganda Devices’
  1. Lincoln Harter and John Sullivan have enlisted 77 propaganda devices in their book titled “Propaganda Hand Book”. However, there are only seven the devices mostly used in the world and mentioned by Severin & Tankard; these are given in the following lines:
  2. Name Calling

The propagandists usually attribute a good idea with bad label through the use of this type of device. The idea of the activist is accepted as he is known as trustworthy person while spreading the label, such as “Mujahidin” in the 1980’s to 1990’s . But the US propagandists changed the label with “terrorists” and “fundamentalists” after the objectives were achieved. What may be the case, the audience accept or turn down the propaganda without examining it in the light of facts.

  1. Glittering Generality

In this technique, an acceptable label is given to a bad idea while those related to it have a disreputable past in the society. In some instances, some terrorist organisations are labeled as “freedom fighters” or dubbed as the heroes of the nation. The public accepts their slogan and they don’t confirm the realities about the person or organization.

  1. Transfer

As regards this device, ideas, thoughts, activities, individuals and groups are portrayed with a good image; for example, promoting smoking of cigarettes and showing that it improves health. However, it is extremely injurious to the health of those who accept the message.

  1. Testimonial

At times, the propagandist tries to affect an idea and person through the statement of a respectable personality. Testimonial means having some respected or hated person say something good or bad about a given idea or program or product or person, e.g appearance of famous Pakistani cricketers Shahid Afridi and Wasim Akram in Pepsi advertisements.

  1. Plain Folk

When a speaker tries to establish good relations with audience and to assert that he and his ideas are good because he or she is from their community; this is referred to as “Plain Folk” device.

In election campaigns, the politicians use the same tactic for political mileage. In other words, the politicians emphasize that, “you know me and I know you.”

  1. Card Staking

Card staking refers to the idea that the propagandist selects and uses facts or false things and illustrations as per his own free will, with an aim to portray an idea, program, person or product positively or negatively.

For instance, the TV commercials show only those people who like or appreciate a product, but the people whose opinions run counter to the first group are not shown.

  1. Bandwagon:

Sometimes the propagandist tries to convince someone that all members of the group, to which hail from, accept his idea and hence he or she should also follow it. For example, the commercial or advertisement of Pepsi says: “Dunya hy Dil Walo ki” while the Mobilink says “Jazz apna hy”, and the Zong says: “sub keh do,” etc.

Another example is that during times of war, the young men are termed the main force and portrayed as heroes of the nation etc.

Westley and MacLean’s Model of Communication


In 1957 Westley and MacLean’s model of communication is proposed by Bruce Westley (1915-1990) and Malcolm S. MacLean Jr (1913-2001). Being one of the creators of journalism studies, Westley served as a teacher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, between 1946 and 1968. Malcolm was director of University of Journalism School (1967-74) and co founder of the University College at University of Minnesota.

This model can be seen two contexts, interpersonal and mass communication. And the point of difference between interpersonal and mass communication is the feedback. In interpersonal, the feedback is direct and fast. In the mass, the feedback is indirect and slow.


Westely and Maclean realized that communication does not begin when one person starts to talk, but rather when a person responds selectively to his/her physical surroundings. This model considers a strong relation between responds from surroundings and the process of communication. Communication begins only when a person receives message from surroundings. Each receiver responds to the message they received based on their object of orientation.

X1, X2, X3 and X4….—are news articles or information, Feedback (f), Clients (A), Reader or Audience (B) and Gate Keeper (c)


A Daily News Papers will receive many Press releases from Many Public Relations Agencies on behalf of their clients. In this case, News paper will publish the selected Press release due to the space constraints. Then, Readers can directly respond to the client or they can respond to the News daily which published in the Newspaper. If Readers responded to daily News paper, it will communicate the feedback to concern PR Agency.

X1, X2 and X3—are Press Release, Feedback (f), Clients (A), Reader (B) and Daily News Paper (Gate Keeper) (c)

1.    Feedback Loop between Reader (B) and News Paper (C) – fBC
2.    Feedback Loop between News Paper(C ) and Client (A)- fCA
3.    Feedback loop between Reader (B) and Client (A)- fBA.

Merits and Demerits:

  • This model accounts for Feedback.
  • It can account for different modes of communication, i.e., for both interpersonal communication and Mass communication.
  • It is a predictive model of communication and very descriptive also.
  • It also account for non binary interactions, this means that it will remain good even for communications involving more than two sources.
  • Westley and Maclean communication model is Two Dimensional.
  • It cannot account for multi dimensions; this means this model will not be applicable for typical communication events that involve broader context and wide range of communication messages.


The Newcomb’s Model of Communication

THEODORE M.NEWCOMB (July 24, 1903)  in Rock Creek, at the northeastern tip of Ohio and he was a great pioneer in the field of social psychology. Merely 50 years he worked for the improvement of human motivation, perception and learning to shape the deep understanding of social process. In 1929, he started his professional career in the department of psychology at University of Michigan. In 1931, he moved to Cleveland College, University of Western Reserve from University of Michigan. In 1934, he got a great offer from New Bennington College in Vermont which caused remarkable changes in his rest of his professional career. His works “Personality and Social Change” (1943), “Social Psychology” (1950). He published a new social approach in field of communication which is called “ABX” system (later it became Newcomb’s model) and it’s published in the name of “An Approach to the Study of Communicative Acts (1953)”. He published another great work in the field of social psychology called “The Acquaintance Process” (1961).

The New Comb’s model of communication was introduced by Theodore M Newcomb of the University of Michigan in 1953. He gives different approach to the communication process. The main purpose of this theory is to introduce the role of communication in a social relationship (society) and to maintain social equilibrium within the social system. He does not include the message as a separate entity in his diagram, implying it only by use of directional arrows. He concentrates on the social purpose of communication, showing all communication as a means of sustaining relationships between people. Sometimes it’s called as an “ABX” model of communication.

The Newcomb’s model works in a triangular format or A-B-X system

A – Sender

B – Receiver

X – Matter of Concern

The relationship between A and B is like student and teacher, government and public or newspaper and readers. Sender and Receiver may work in a same flow but the same time some factor like “X” may affect their flow of relationship.  “X” it may be third persons, issue, topic or policy.

For Example:

Teachers introduce a new policy to increase the college timing from 6 hours to 8 hours.

A – Teachers     B – Students    X – Policy or issue
If both students and teachers are satisfied with this policy then the communication maintains its equilibrium status between them. Otherwise the flow of communication between “A” and “B” becomes trouble in the social system. If “A” or “B” is not ready to accept the policy then it will directly affect the social system and can’t maintain the equilibrium status. So Teachers”A” can convince students “B” as much as possible. Otherwise they have to make some adjustments in the Policy “X” and convince them towards the policy.