DOI Theoretical Framework: Adopting Innovative Technologies

DOI Theoretical Framework: Adopting Innovative Technologies

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3414-3.ch005


Change is not easy! People adhere to old routines and habits tenaciously. Most people are slow to accept new ideas, new products, in short, innovations. When it comes to new technologies that can aid in adaptation to climate change, there is fierce resistance from farmers (to sustainable agriculture), from the fossil fuels industries (to sustainable energy), from developers (to going green), and the list goes on. While a new technology does involve a certain investment of time and money at first, it is cost effective and profitable in the long term. When it comes to sustainability, nothing less than the future of our planet is at stake, so it is incumbent upon us to find a way to “sell” the innovations to the masses. The Diffusion of Innovations (DOI) Theoretical Framework provides an effective, structured means of doing this; its efficacy has been established for hundreds of innovations, and it is particularly suited to technologies.
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Diffusion Of Innovations Theory

Everett M. Rogers seminal work, Diffusion of Innovations Theory, was first published in 1962. He continued to update and publish revised editions (Rogers, 1983, 1995, 2003) until a year before he died. By the time he wrote his fifth and final edition of Diffusion of Innovations (2003), DOI theory had become so widely accepted as a valuable framework for social change that Rogers estimated that there were some 5,200 publications about DOI Theory.

Rogers (2003, pp. 11-12) defined innovation as “an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption” and diffusion as “the process in which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system.” Following are the four main elements in DOI Theory:

  • Innovation;

  • Communication channels;

  • Time;

  • The social system.


Rogers noted that the perceived characteristics of an innovation influences its rate of adoption. He (2003) listed five characteristics as the most predictive of the adoption rate:

  • Relative advantage (the degree to which the innovation is perceived to be an improvement over the status quo);

  • Compatibility (the degree to which the innovation is perceived to be consistent with target audience’s existing values, experiences, and needs);

  • Complexity (the degree to which the innovation is perceived to be difficult to understand and use);

  • Trialability (the degree to which the innovation can be experimented with on a limited basis);

  • Observability (the degree to which the results of the innovation are visible to others).

The first two characteristics—relative advantage and compatibility—are the most important. The simpler an innovation appears to be to the target audience, the more likely they are to adopt it. Another characteristic Rogers (2003) cites is the ability to re-invent the innovation, that is, to customize it and make it one’s own. This ability to re-invent an innovation makes it more attractive to the target audience (Rogers, 2003).

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