This blog was created as a forum for class discussion for JLMC/TSC 574, Communication Technology & Social Change offered at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.
Adopter categories;Driven Risk-Takers, these are innovators that live for change, always willing to try something new. Creative, often walk to a different drummer. Not well connected socially, indifferent to organizational goals. Live for change - driven to change, always stirring the pot!Connected Communicators, sit between the risk-takers and the balance of population. They understand innovation, particularly benefits to adoption. They are socially connected and can readily influence others. They are respected authority, either through leadership or position.Logical Majority, thoughtfully understand the advantages of an innovation. They are not risk takers though, and tend to want proof of concept in the form of experiencing the innovation. They want a proven entity, will not take chances. Bandwagon jumpers, are even more adverse to risk, but eventually “give in” to a new innovation if it obviously is proven and contains virtually no risk. These are not leaders, but followers more comfortable with the status quo. Luggards, This group rarely joins into the innovation. They are luggards, people that others have to “lug – carry” on their backs. They are highly resistant to change, and generally do not add value to any group or organization.
Rogers recommends that this sort of categorization occur based on a single dimension – in the case of the model he presents, the timing of the adoption. I propose categories based on the attitude of the adopter. This allows those who instantly adopt an innovation, but their circumstances cause them to not hear about it until late in the curve, to be classified with those traditionally considered innovators. Conversely, those who are normally much more reserved in their adoption, but happen to have contact with change agents who work hard to persuade them, and wind up adopting in the “early majority” part of the curve, will be classified with traditional “laggards.” If all people had perfect information, my categories would be the same as Rogers'.I assume that human attitudes will fall along a normal distribution, and will use similar divisions of the bell curve that Rogers does – the mean, and 1 s.d. on either side of the mean, resulting in 4 divisions. Since the element of when somebody learns about an innovation is removed, I don't feel a need for a fifth, highest category. Thus, I would have:1. Eager adopters -- “Neophilic” individuals who will weight the newness of an innovation very highly when considering its relative advantage. Regardless of when they hear about it, they will adopt almost any innovation instantly. These individuals would be rated in the top 16% of people, in terms of their preference for new things.2. rapid majority -- these individuals will not give much conscious thought to the newness of an innovation when considering relative advantage, but will tend to weight positive things more than negative ones. They consist of the next 34% of individuals.3. slow majority -- these individual will not give much conscious thought to the newness of an innovation when considering relative advantage, but will tend to weight negative things more than positive ones. They consist of the next 34% of individuals.4. Luddites -- these individuals are highly skeptical of any innovation, regardless of its relative advantage, compatibility, etc. as measured objectively, not considering its newness. These individuals would be in the bottom 16% of people, in terms of their preference for new things.
Focusing on the structure of diffusion network, I apply social network theory to categorize adopters. In this case, the criterion of each category is “what position an actors occupy” rather than “how early an actor adopt.” For this, I borrow two concepts: isolate and structural hole. First, “isolates” are defined as social actors who have no tie or link with anyone in a social network (Wasserman and Faust, 1994). For example, when a doctor has no colleagues with who share information on new medicines or treatments, he or she can be named an isolate in the medical innovation diffusion network. On the other hand, “structural holes” are defined as structural positions which can connect those who have no tie or link with one another: like a hub of a wheel (Burt, 1992). In other words, if there is no social actor who occupies the position, many other actors are isolated from each other. Based on these concepts, I classify adopters into four types: (1) innovative isolates, (2) structural hole holders (SH holders), (3) peripherals, and (4) obstinate isolates.1. Innovative isolates: They are the most innovative actors to adopter something new. However, they are too innovative (or weird) to build or maintain relationships with the others, because their behavior could be considered as unsuitable to social norm or conventional rule. Therefore, they usually remain socially isolated. So, they cannot influence the others to accept the innovation. It means that they have little opinion leadership.2. Structural hole holder (SH holder): They have relationships with more people who usually have no relationships with each other. For example, they could participant on diverse organizations or they could meet peoples who have different types of jobs. So, the communications between SH holders and the others are more easily promoted than the communications among the others. That is, SH holders can play a significant role in distributing information on innovations such as relative advantages from some groups to other groups. They are also as pioneering as the innovative isolates but they hold core positions through which information flows, while the innovative isolates are isolated. So, they have a great deal of opinion leadership.3. Peripherals: Although they have enough links through which information flows, they have links only with homogeneous people. That is, their links can not go outside their own cliques. Therefore, as long as they do not have any chance to meet SH holders, they can hardly have something new. They have to wait for SH holder to bring them new information. So, it is possible for the peripherals to adopt innovations just after SH holder do.4. Obstinate Isolate: They are social isolated just like the “innovative isolates.” So, they are not influenced by anyone at all. Besides, they sometimes do not know even if there are something new or if there are any advantages. The exclusion from diffusion network makes it hard for them to adapt innovation.ReferenceBurt, R. 1992. Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition. MA: Harvard Univ. Press. Wasserman, S., and K. Faust. 1994. Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications, NY: Cambridge.
My adopter categories were chosen based on the same metric as Rogers, relative timing of adoption, but I only have 3 categories. These 3 groups correspond to the 3 main portions of the S curve; the point leading up to critical mass (where the curve is fairly level), the period of rapid adoption that is the middle of the curve, and the final length where the curve levels out again.1) Opportunists. These are the innovators that seek new opportunities and will undertake risky new endeavors. Not necessarily socially connected or unconnected, this group contains individuals who adopt before all others. Generally interested in being on the leading (if not bleeding) edge of the future.2) Reactionaries. These adopters are the ones that wait and see; not deciding until they see the results of others. Once a significant portion of a social network has adopted, this group follows suit. No major preference for the days of yesteryear or the future of tomorrow.3) Conservatives. This group of adopters is the last to adopt, preferring the ways of yesterday to the future of tomorrow. They resist advances and innovations, and change in general.
You would not believe it but I started off with a Percolation Theory and Soil Horizons analogy, but that was just too serious. I wanted to give a funny twist to my adopter categories so I tried again and here they are.In a town called Innovasia, live five people who are very different from each other but nonetheless are friends. A merchant of a new kind of telephone went to the town mayor and asked him about the people who live in Innovasia and what they might think about his new product. The mayor told him this:Visionary Victor always catches wind of a new technology or product first. He is very bold and so is unafraid of risks that might hurt his venture if he does buy or use the new technology. Aside from this fearless attitude Visionary Victor also has technical training (goes on technical seminars as often as he can) and won’t be daunted by the difficult processes that the technology involves. He also keeps in touch with like-minded visionaries like him through email, chatting and via his personal website.Esteemed Ernie would buy the technology next. His neighbors always look up to him and emulates him because of his respectable position in society. He is well-educated (has several degrees from very reputable schools) and well-travelled (went on the classic European tour of the continent and has 1 million miles on his WorldPerks). Esteemed Ernie has money and thus has more resources at hand and is not so fearful of a technology not being able to deliver. If it does happen, he will just chalk it up to experience.Thinker Tad takes time to observe and see if the new venture is reasonable and if his neighbor Esteemed Ernie has bought into the idea. He wants to make sure that he has thought the process through and that he has safety nets in the case of failure. Thinker Tad’s favorite words are logic, reason and sense. If the product does not involve any of those keywords, too bad but Tad would just have to pass it up.Wary William is very slow to catch on the technology. He demands that the new technology perform well first in the hands of his neighbors, Tad and Ernie. In fact, it’s not enough for a salesman to bring him statistics of other people in other places, he has to be able to make sure that the technology works in his neighbors’ backyards. Like the doubting Thomas of the Bible, Wary William has to see to believe.Tardy Terry is the last of all to know about a technology. But even if he already knows about it, he still would not buy it until everyone else has. He is a firm believer in what we call ‘herd instinct’. Until Tardy Terry notices that all his neighbors but him has bought the product, you won’t find him anywhere near the technology.
I will say that my classification of adoptor categories are mainly based on the willingness or tendency to take the innovation. There are four categories:Initiativers:People of this category are willing to take any risk related to the innovativation. They are defintely adventuresome and enjoy the new ideas or technolgies no matter how diffifult to adopt. So, most of the innovators are regarded as this category.Positive participants:They are usually opinion leaders. Their social or economic status also enables them to adopt any innovations in early stage. The rest of the society look up to them. Their decisions are critical when the innovations is introduced. They are very active participants in the social events. Of course, the change agents use these people to diffuse any innovations. Negative participants:People of this category are very skeptical to any innovation. They don't want to adopt the innovations until they think it is necessary. Their socio-economic status also plays a important role to adopt the new innovations since their financial or social resources are not enough to adopt the innovation at the same speed with the positive participants. However, they are open to new ideas and look out for the expertise. Owing to the limited resources, their attitude are more skeptical, reluctant, and deliberate when they have to adopt the innovations.Resistants:They hate the changes. They always want to be conservative when it comes to the new innovation. They don't want to follow the new trends. Therefore, they are resisting any innovations. They don't care about being outsiders by a society.
I tried to categorize the adopters according to their general perception of the technological innovation. Although the model is very innovation and individual specific, I tried to draw a very general framework. TechnomaniasSomeone in this category adopts innovations for the satisfaction of having the newest technology. This group can be looked upon as “innovation seekers,” people who are always in search for the newest and the best of its kind. TechnoconvenientsThis group of adopters feels that innovation brings increasing convenience to daily life. They enjoy incorporating innovations into the existing technology for better efficiency, and are therefore always attentive to the benefits of innovations. TechnoconfusedThe Technoconfused are not very familiar with high-tech innovations and therefore, are less active in trying out innovations. I suggest that personal interaction with Technoconvenients would place the group on this slot. However, if a Technoconfused lacks contact with a Technoconvenient, then he/she would be placed with the Technobandwagoners, because although this group is not against adopting innovations, they lack information and knowledge. TechnobandwagonersAs the name suggests, this group doesn’t think about the benefits or the losses of innovations, but naturally adopt innovations that have become prevalent in the society. For example, if a technobandwagoner needed to make a presentation, he/she would use Powerpoint instead of overhead sheets because nobody uses overheads anymore. TechnodystopiansThe group that is the most reluctant, and therefore are usually the last to adopt (if they decide to adopt) is the Technodystopians. The group views technological innovations as crossing their values and beliefs. For example, whereas Technoconvenients may look at video games as a way to socialize and form common ground with friends, Technodystopians would find them impersonal, having too much exposure to violence, and mentally and physically unhealthy.
I conceive my adopter categories on the basis of activeness, that is how and to which degree do people affect others in the progress of innovation. I enlarge the scope of adopter by inviting in two kinds of rejecters. By doing this, I tried to emphasize the affection of interpersonal communication and help to find a more effective way to promote the process of innovation. This adopter categories built on the premise that all people have know about the innovation, either through mass media or interpersonal channels.Protagonists (operative adopters)--- These people are active advocates of an innovation. They adopt the innovation themselves and are more willing to tell the people around them about the innovation, persuade others to adopt it, and they have the ability to affect others behavior. They are more likely to be the opinion leaders in a community.Inoperative adopters--- Adopters of an innovation. They adopt the innovation, but will not or do not have the ability to persuade more people to adopt the innovation.Objectors (operative rejecters)--- These people also have the ability to influence others. But they are in absolute apposition to the protagonists. They are ultra rejecters of an innovation. They refuse to adopt the innovation and advertise the negative factors of the innovation to others. They are the opinion leaders in a community too. They are powerful enough to affect others’ opinion towards the innovation.Inoperative rejecters--- People who do not adopt the innovation. They are often isolated with the community, have little interpersonal relations with others. They are also passive; they will not take any activity to prevent the innovation from spreading.Wonderers--- those do not have a specific attitude towards the innovation. They are easily influenced by mass media, Protagonists and Objectors. And they finally translate into any of the four categories mentioned above.
Adopter Categories The criterion for adopter categorization is social-political system of the country, in which people use different thought toward the innovation adoption. Although these different social systems may not exclusive to each other, the purpose of the Adopter Categories is to generalize the adopter in different countries.1.Democratic Adopter (Open) People in this social-political system receive freely the innovation information without filtration from any government or administration system whatever this innovation is favor or disfavor to these systems. Democratic adopters are open and willing to accept any innovation and the government or administration institution also adopt the innovation without make any regulations or limitations. The innovation-decision of people is always made by individual-decision process, through the mass media and interpersonal communication channel. The opinion leaders in this system have limited influence on others who have not adopted the innovation and only when the number of opinion leader accumulated to an enormous quantity, the adoption rate could rise up. In addition, the S-curve in the adoption rate tends to perform a normal S-shape. The representational country is U.S.A. 2.Monarchism Adopter (Following) The adopter in social-political system of monarchism is deeply influence by the king in the country although the king does not have any power to prohibit people to take some innovations. People always take kind as a reference or standard when they receive some innovations. Neither the king nor any government or administration selects or prohibit any innovation information. The attitude toward the innovation depends on whether the king and administration favor it or not, and people in this social-political would likely to choose to follow because of this conform of the society. The king usually equal to the opinion leader in this society and have a great effect on people and the rate of adoption will rise quickly when the king favor the innovation, on the other hand, when king disfavor the innovation, the rate would go up slow. The representational country is U.K.3.Socialism Adopter (Coercion) People expose to information of innovation which selected or chosen by the government or administration system, and they usually don’t have no choose or attitude toward the innovation. Emphasis on unified society, people are limited to express their opinion which must favor to the government and forced to adopt the innovation which also favor to administration system. Innovation in this stage especially software innovation seem as disfavor to government which think that will endanger the foundation of society. People in this category usually have finite fortune, access, and exposure of media, and the adopter who usually have greater fortune and access but limited exposure of media which control by government system. The innovation-decision of people is made by authorities-decision process, through the mass media channel own by administration. Therefore, the administration or government system is the opinion leader in this stage and the adoption will suddenly rise up when the administration decide to adopt the innovation. Moreover, the S-curve can be divided into two different shapes either the adoption rate rise so steep or the rise so gentle. The representational country is China.4.Authoritarianism (Prohibition) In this category, the people often isolated from innovation of information by government or administration system. The administration system blocks all information of innovation which people don’t have fortune, access and opportunity to contact the innovation. Thus, people in authoritarianism countries hardly adopt any innovation. On the other hand, the government or administration system always plays a role of adoption which benefit to the dictator or country like adoption weapon or nuclear technology. The innovation-decision of adoption is control by authorities-decision process also through the mass media which is a propaganda tool of the government system. Accordingly, the dictator of this system is the most powerful opinion leader who can totally decide people adopt which innovation and the rate of adoption is similar to category of socialism adopter. The S-curve of this category has two extreme shapes either steep rising in rate of adoption or rejects the innovation adoption for a period of time. The representational country is Cuba.
I'd like to name the adopter categories according to the different initiatives of the five types of adopters. I define them as "agents" since they can represent the different roles of their participations in the innovation. And I have four for the catergories.1.Pioneer AgentsThey usually have the most active and positive attitude to accept the new idea. And they like to jump out of the local circle to take advantage of more cosmopolite social relationships. They are always looking forward to try the adventurous and risky idea instantly. They desire to lead the innovation.2.Respectful AgentsThey usually own the high social status in the local system.They have the highest degree of opinion leadershipn in most systems.These individuals have the ability to trigger the critical mass to adopt an innovation. Because they have good reputation and they serve as a role model for many other members of the whole society.3.Ordinary AgentsThese individuals do not have too much active operating abilities.They want to observe the developing process of the new idea.Judging that if the innovation can be suitable for the system norms is the thing that they absolutely would do.They can accept the innovation after the interactive communication or the diffusion from the opinion leaders.They are the most numerous adopter categories.4.Resistant Agents They are relatively isolated from the social system. They are usually resistant to the new idea in terms of their traditional values.Eventhough the experiments can also be refused by them. Decisions are just made according to what has been done in the past.They must be sure of that a new idea will succeed before they can adopt.
On the basis of a qualitative analysis of semistructured interviews of 7 automobile dealerships in Oulu, Finland, we uncovered 4 themes: strategic understanding of electronic commerce (eCommerce), technological understanding of eCommerce, maturity of the Web site supporting eCommerce, and eCommerce developmental strategy. These themes allowed us to make sense in a succinct way of the similarities and differences among these automobile dealerships. Ranking the 7 dealerships on these 4 themes (dimensions) yielded consistent patterns and led us to identify adopter categories of eCommerce. We suggest 3 major adopter categories: procrastinators, followers, and visionaries. Followers are further divided into opportunists, waverers, and striders. Analysis of the histories of Web sites also showed that the existence of a Web site as such and its operational use are not sufficient to trigger effective learning about eCommerce. We suggest that learning at the levels of strategic understanding and technological understanding of eCommerce is a joint outcome of eCommerce developmental strategy and the Web site maturity rather than either of them separately. The interviews also showed that the dealers with higher strategic and technological understanding had a more active eCommerce developmental strategy and more mature Web sites. This finding led us to conjecture that the developmental strategy and the Web site maturity are influenced by both strategic understanding and technological understanding.Analysis of Electronic Commerce Adopter Categories in Retailing: The Case of Automobile DealershipsJuhani IivariDepartment of Information Processing Science, University of OuluMarius JansonDepartment of Information Systems, University of Missouri-St. Louishttp://www.leaonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/S15327744JOCE1301_2#search=%22adopter%20categories%22
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