Diffusion of innovations

Diffusion of ideas and innovations studies focus on the spread and use of ideas from one actor to another or one culture and another. This line of research seeks to explain why some become "early adopters" of ideas and innovations, and links social network structure with facilitating or impeding the spread of an innovation. Diffusion of Innovations is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures. Everett Rogers, a professor of rural sociology, popularized the theory in his 1962 book Diffusion of Innovations. He said diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system. The origins of the diffusion of innovations theory are varied and span multiple disciplines. Rogers (1962) espoused the theory that there are four main elements that influence the spread of a new idea: the innovation, communication channels, time, and a social system. This process relies heavily on human capital. The innovation must be widely adopted in order to self-sustain. Within the rate of adoption, there is a point at which an innovation reaches critical mass.The categories of adopters are: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards (Rogers 1962, p. 150). Diffusion of Innovations manifests itself in different ways in various cultures and fields and is highly subjective to the type of adopters and innovation-decision process. The concept of diffusion was first studied by the French sociologist Gabriel Tarde (1890) and by German and Austrian anthropologists such as Friedrich Ratzel and Leo Frobenius. Its basic epidemiological or internal-influence form was formulated by H. Earl Pemberton, who prov ded examples of institutional diffusion such as postage stamps and standardized school ethic codes. In 1962 Everett Rogers, a professor of rural sociology published his work:"Diffusion of Innovations". In this seminal piece, Rogers synthesized research from over 508 diffusion studies and produced a theory applied to the adoption of innovations among individuals and organizations. Roger's work asserts that 4 main elements influence the spread of a new idea: the innovation, communication channels, time, and a social system. These elements work in conjunction with one another: diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system. Roger;s adds that central to this theory is process. Individuals experience 5 stages of accepting a new innovation: knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation. If the innovation is adopted, it spreads via various communication channels. During communication, the idea is rarely evaluated from a scientific standpoint; rather, subjective perceptions of the innovation influence diffusion. The process occurs over time. Finally, social systems determine diffusion, norms on diffusion, roles of opinion leaders and change agents, types of innovation decisions, and innovation consequences. To use Rogersí model in health requires us to assume that the innovation in classical diffusion theory is equivalent to scientific research findings in the context of practice, an assumption that has not been rigorously tested. How can we spread and sustain innovations in health service delivery and organization? Greenhalgh et al., evaluate an evidence-based model for considering the diffusion of innovations in health service organizations.