This chapter provides a conceptual framework for integrating the array of variables defined in diffusion research to explicate their influence on an actor’s decision to adopt an innovation. The framework groups the variables into three major components. The first component includes characteristics of the innovation itself, within which two sets of variables are defined concerning public versus private consequences and benefits versus costs of adoption. A second component involves the characteristics of innovators (actors) that influence the probability of adoption of an innovation. Within this component six sets of variables concern societal entity of innovators (either people, organizations, states, etc.), familiarity with the innovation, status characteristics, socioeconomic characteristics, position in social networks, and personal qualities. The third component involves characteristics of the environmental context that modulate diffusion via structural characteristics of the modern world.
These latter characteristics incorporate four sets of variables: geographicalsettings, societal culture, political conditions, and global uniformity. The concluding analysis highlights the need in diffusion research to incorporate more fully: (a) the interactive character of diffusion variables, (b) the gating function of diffusion variables, and (c) effects of an actor’s characteristics on the temporal rate of diffusion.
From Journal (Annual Review of Sociology), published on 01-12-2002