Diffusion and Innovation: An Organizational Perspective

Diffusion and Innovation: An Organizational Perspective

Robert S. Friedman (New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA), Desiree M. Roberts (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY, USA) and Jonathan D. Linton (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-038-7.ch005
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Abstract

This chapter introduces the seminal literature addressing technological diffusion, innovative product diversification, and the organizational strategies and constraints that firms face when introducing and adopting new technologies and innovative management strategies. We begin with diffusion. Abrahamson (1991) draws critical distinctions between the processes undertaken by rational adopters of inefficient technologies and the conditions that promote the irrational rejection of efficient innovations. Attewell’s (1992) focus is on organizational learning and abilities that drive the diffusion of innovative information and computing technologies. Cooper and Zmud (1990) examine managerial involvement with information technology, its effect on the adoption and infusion of that technology, and the role of rational decision models in explaining IT adoption. The section on diffusion closes with Narin and Perry’s (1987) look at the use of patent and citation data as a method of gauging a firm’s technological strength. In this case, information is the innovative product being diffused.
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Introduction

This chapter introduces the seminal literature addressing technological diffusion, innovative product diversification, and the organizational strategies and constraints that firms face when introducing and adopting new technologies and innovative management strategies. We begin with diffusion. Abrahamson (1991) draws critical distinctions between the processes undertaken by rational adopters of inefficient technologies and the conditions that promote the irrational rejection of efficient innovations. Attewell’s (1992) focus is on organizational learning and abilities that drive the diffusion of innovative information and computing technologies. Cooper and Zmud (1990) examine managerial involvement with information technology, its effect on the adoption and infusion of that technology, and the role of rational decision models in explaining IT adoption. The section on diffusion closes with Narin and Perry’s (1987) look at the use of patent and citation data as a method of gauging a firm’s technological strength. In this case, information is the innovative product being diffused.

Chatterjee and Wernerfelt (1991) begin the second section on diversification and organizational structure by locating a theoretical basis for the identification and validation of factors that influence diversification innovation adoption strategies. Miller and Freisen (1982) ask why different decision-making variables affect entrepreneurial and conservative firms differently, focusing on the determinants of innovation that must be considered in any organization’s development strategy. Orlikowski (1992) re-examines structuration to provide an alternative conceptualization of the role of technology, focusing on the theory’s social and historical substrata to provide an explanation of how we might rethink the roles of technology in organizations. Rothwell (1992) concludes the second section by providing a rich overview of the literature on industrial innovation process, from which he soberly determines that, even after five decades of research on innovation in organizations, there is still no roadmap to successful innovation.

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