Everett Rogers (1931 – 2004) was born at Carroll, Iowa in his family’s Farm. He was well-known Professor, Researcher, advisor and a former editor for a newspaper and reporter too. He earned his PhD in 1957 at Iowa State University of Science and Technology in the field of Sociology and statistics. He was well known for the book called “Diffusion of Innovation”(1962) in which he explains the theory of how innovations and ideas spread across the populations. He says in a social system the innovation is communicated by the process of diffusion.
Diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system (Everett Roger, 1961). An Innovation is an idea, practice, or object perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption (Rogers, 2003).
The diffusion of innovation theory analysis how the social members adopt the new innovative ideas and how they made the decision towards it. Both mass media and interpersonal communication channel is involved in the diffusion process. The theory heavily relies on Human capital. According to the theory , innovations should be widely adopted in order to attain development and sustainability. In real life situations the adaptability of the culture played a very relevant role where ever the theory was applied. Rogers proposed four elements of diffusion of innovations they are
- Innovations – an idea, practice, or object perceived as new by an individual. It can also be an impulse to do something new or bring some social change
- Communication Channel – The communication channels take the messages from one individual to another. It is through the channel of communication the Innovations spreads across the people. It can take any form like word of mouth, SMS, any sort of literary form etc
- Time – It refers to the length of time which takes from the people to get adopted to the innovations in a society. It is the time people take to get used to new ideas. For an example consider mobile phones it took a while to get spread among the people when it is introduced in the market
- Social System – Interrelated network group joint together to solve the problems for a common goal. Social system refers to all kinds of components which construct the society like religion, institutions, groups of people etc
Who made the decision to accept the innovation? Rogers says that in a social system there are three ways the decisions are taken. He suggested the three ways considering the ability of people to make decisions of their own and their ability to implement it voluntarily, the three ways are as follows..
- Optional – Individuals made a decision about the innovation in the social system by themselves
- Collective – The decision made by all individuals in the social system
- Authority – Few individuals made the decision for the entire social system
Further Roger identifies the Mechanism of Diffusion of Innovation Theory through five following stages
An Individual can expose the new innovation but they are not showing any interest in it due to the lack information or knowledge about the innovation
An Individual is showing more interest in the new innovation and they are always seeking to get details or information about the innovation
In this stage, an individual analysis the positive and negative of the innovation and decide whether to accept / reject the innovation. Roger explains “one of the most difficult stages to identify the evidence”
An individual’s take some efforts to identify the dependence of the innovation and collect more information about the usefulness of the innovation, then its future also
An individual conforms or finalize their decision and continue to use the innovation with full potential
During the last years of 90’s the mobile phones were introduced to common people even though it was there in market the cost was much higher. Roger’s theory of diffusion of innovation can be apprehended by understanding how the people accepted and get used for mobile phones. When it was introduced it wasn’t something which comes with 500+ killer applications as today it was merely a portable land line.