IT Standards Adoption and Diffusion Models

IT Standards Adoption and Diffusion Models

Josephine Wapakabulo Thomas (Rolls-Royce, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-832-1.ch003
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The motivation behind this research is to identify the factors that impact the adoption of data-exchange standards, such as STEP. Research into the adoption of STEP and other standards produced by ISO/TC184/SC4, which is the ISO technical committee responsible for the development of STEP, is very limited. Currently there are only two specific empirical studies (Dreverman, 2005; Meister, 2004) that shed light on the factors associated with the adoption of ISO/TC184/SC4 (referred to as SC4 for the remainder of the chapter) standards like STEP. This means that practitioners devoted to the ongoing development and use of these standards, and academics, still lack a significant body of evidence regarding the factors and barriers critical to their adoption.
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Adoption And Diffusion Terminology

The terms adoption and diffusion are often used interchangeably in IT standards research. Some authors make a distinction between the two terms (Prescott & Cogner, 1995; Nelson & Shaw, 2003), but most authors, such as Chen (2003), tend to discuss the issues surrounding adoption and diffusion without making any clear distinction of the meanings of the two terms, leaving the readers to make assumptions about the intended meaning of the words. In light of this it was considered necessary to make a clear distinction between the meanings associated with the words ‘adoption’ and ‘diffusion’.

The Compact Oxford English dictionary defines diffusion as ‘the action or process of becoming spread over a wide area’ (, 2005). However, this meaning varies across different application areas. For example, within physical sciences, diffusion relates to the spontaneous spreading of, for instance, particles, heat or momentum. Another example is in the field of anthropology, which defines diffusion as the flow of an idea or artefact from one culture to another. Further examples of different application areas include the diffusion of responsibility from a social perspective and diffusion from a business perspective (Wikipedia, 2005). The latter application area relating to business is the area that is relevant to this research. Within the business environment diffusion relates to the process by which a new idea (innovation) or new product is accepted by the market. According to the Internet encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, over the years there have been several theories that explain the mechanics of diffusion from a business perspective, examples of these are shown in Table 1.

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