Why Technologists Resist Negative Change: The Resistance to Innovation and Consuming Products against their Better Judgment

Why Technologists Resist Negative Change: The Resistance to Innovation and Consuming Products against their Better Judgment

Francisco Chia Cua (FCC Consultants Inc., Quezon City, Philippines) and Steve Reames (College of Commerce and Humanities, A’Sharqiyah University, Seeb, Oman)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/jissc.2012100106


This paper is a critical and non-empirical review of innovation resistance and anti-consumption: the concepts, concerns, conflicts, and convergence. Both resistances to innovation and anti-consumptions converge to one another which influence the opinions (i.e., market mavens) of the market segment or non-adopters (voluntary simplifiers). Voluntary simplifiers or non-adopters represent over fifty percent (50%) of the market segment. This paper focuses on the embedded (hidden) assumptions of the resistance to innovation and anti-consumption and describes how the two concepts are different. When both converge, the exact reasons in favor of action will occur. The paper concludes that the technologist can adapt to negative change if they better understand why non-adopters resist innovation and consume products against their better judgment.
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This paper considers “innovation resistance,” or opposition to resistance, that is a less developed concept in adoption research (Laukkanen et al., 2007, p. 419). And, a social phenomenon that researchers have traditionally ignored (Lee et al., 2009a, p. 145) called social “anti-consumption,” or reasons against consumption.

A thorough study of past literature, theory, and ongoing research reveals that “innovation resistance” and “anti-consumption” are two distinct perspectives in a theory of knowledge or epistemology and suggest that discernment of each by the technologist will provide both enlightenment and a vision. The term perspective concerns knowledge with subjective characteristics, that are individualistic or collective of a class of people in a shared situations or a “common set of concerns” (Miller & Mansilla, 2004, p. 4). For example, an executive sponsor of an innovation has an individual perspective of the newness of a change agenda while the upper management has their perspectives, individually and collectively, of the reasons for the change.

Positive change or negative change is always done for a reason. The reasons for the action (that is, for the change agenda) have two sides, akin to two sides of a coin. The coin has the “exciting” reasons and the “justifying” reasons (Hutcheson, 1897, p. 404), The former presupposes instincts and affections and the latter, a moral sense. The former composes of the reason for action (Dancy, 2000) and the latter, the reason in favor of action (Frankena, 1973). The former represents the true reason for the act is done and the latter consists of the good reason for the action. The former is about the instinctive motive (Dancy, 2000; Hutcheson, 1897) and the latter is about moral reason (Frankena, 1973) or “sensible or right or whatever” (Dancy, 2000, p. 2). Hutcheson (1897) warns, any attempt to tear the two sides of the intentional action apart will render the intentional action intelligible. Both must be kept together. Both must be shewn by truths. Both sides require explanation. Both reasons belong to normative reasons.

Historically, human interactions, Tarde (1903, p. 140) asked why, “given one hundred different innovations conceived at the same time—innovations in the form of words, mythological ideas, industrial processes, etc—ten will spread abroad (emphasis added) while ninety will be forgotten.” The positive bias (the pro innovation bias as opposed to innovation resistance), embedded in the Diffusion of Innovations (DOI) theory (Rogers, 2003) as early as the beginning of the twentieth century, assumes that the new idea, product, or service, is favorable and would be “intentionally, deliberately, [and] purposely” adopted with reasons (Dancy, 2000, p. 1).

Tarde’s theory has this storyline: (a) A stranger (the innovator) introduces an “invention” (the innovation) to early adopters; (b) people follow the early adopters; (c) the innovator and the early adopters become critical to the success of the adoption; (d) the “selling” (diffusion) of the innovation includes elements of space and time; and (e) if it finds momentum, the rate of adoption follows an S-shaped curve (Kinnunen, 1996). The main actors in Tarde’s diffusion theory are (a) the innovators and (b) the early adopters are sources of reasons for and in favor of the change (the innovation).

Ryan and Gross (1943) identified two other adopter categories who take part and form the positively biased S-shaped curve (Bass, 1969; Mahajan & Peterson, 1985): (c) the early majorities and (d) the late majorities. They had a fifth category called (e) the laggards.

In the concept of S-shaped curve in the DOI theory, the innovator accounts for two and a half (2.5%) percent. The early adopters represent about thirteen and a half (13.5%) percent. These first two categories (totaling sixteen (16%) percent of the population) are market maven (Clark & Goldsmith, 2005), a slang use for opinion leadership (see Appendices A and B). The subsequent thirty four (34%) percent belonging to the early majority, another thirty four (34%) percent under the late majority, and a last sixteen (16%) percent under laggards bring about a normal distribution.

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