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Adoption theories are aimed at understanding, explaining, or predicting how, why, and to what extent individuals or organizations will adopt and accept new technologies or behavioural change processes.
Diffusion of Innovations Theory
Besides the better known Individual Innovativeness Theory (the bell-shaped graph with innovators, early adopters to laggerds) and the Rate of Innovation Theory (The S-shaped graph that illustrates how innovations take of slowly, then grow quickly until the market is saturated or new innovations set in) Rogers' 1995 DoI has a few less often cited building blocks.
The Innovation-Decision Process Theory
|| In this stage the individual is first exposed to an innovation but lacks information about the innovation. During this stage of the process the individual has not been inspired to find more information about the innovation.|
|| In this stage the individual is interested in the innovation and actively seeks information/detail about the innovation.
|| In this stage the individual takes the concept of the change and weighs the advantages/disadvantages of using the innovation and decides whether to adopt or reject the innovation. Due to the individualistic nature of this stage Rogers notes that it is the most difficult stage to acquire empirical evidence.|
|| In this stage the individual employs the innovation to a varying degree depending on the situation. During this stage the individual determines the usefulness of the innovation and may search for further information about it.
|| Although the name of this stage may be misleading, in this stage the individual finalises his/her decision to continue using the innovation and may end up using it to its fullest potential.|
this table on the five stages of an adoption process is based on Rogers (1995) and was taken from wikipedia. More on this topic under: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations
Theory of Perceived Attributes
Rogers identified 5 determinants of the rate of adoption: The innovation must have some relative advantage over an existing innovation or the status quo. The the innovation must be compatible with existing values and practices. The innovation cannot be too complex. The innovation must have trialability and can be tested for a limited time without adoption. The innovation must offer observable results.
Other authors have elaborated this a bit further. Mostly cited in this regard nowadays are Davis and Venkatesh as well as Isaac Ajzen. See the following paragraphs on Behavioural Theory.
Some theory that is relevant in the first 3 stages. These models can help to choose the right knowledge (for the right people) that needs to be put into context of the technology/intervention promoted to persuade the potential receipient to take the decision to adopt a certain behaviour.
The other way around: as a first step it can be considered to conduct a study based on the below frameworks to figure out what the most influencial factors on decision making are in a specific context (regional/technology) and who make decisions based on what considerations.
Technology Acceptance Models (1,2 and 3) and UTAUT
Although focussed on information systems and computer usage, the Technology Acceptance Models (1,2 and 3) by Venkatesh and Davis offer some insights on factors that influence individual decision making when it comes to accepting (and using) a new technology. The TAM 1 is the most basic model, and got elaborated further in the TAM 2 and TAM 3 and changed a bit in UTAUT. An overview of all these models can be found on http://www.vvenkatesh.com/it/organizations/Theoretical_Models.asp#Con=structdefs
The strength of influence of these determinants on a behaviour or decision can vary from region to region or user to user and of course might be very different in the context of different technologies. It might be interesting to consider this before the next awareness, marketing or training intervention and make sure that all (or most) of these factors and the right carriers for your message have been adressed.
Theory of Planned Behaviour and Theory of Reasoned Action
Ajzen's Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) was developed from the Theory of Reasoned Action as a theoretical model to predict and explain human social behavior, and to serve as a framework for behavior change interventions.
Sinister applications and the importance of knowledge
The most important piece in the puzzle of decision making is knowledge. Only INFORMED decision making leads to the best possible decision from an individuals perspective. This fact can be used for the good and the bad. On this page someone has tried to put in few words how anyone can be convinced to believe in anything, thereby touching a few of the disciplines of the Dark Art of Lobbyism:
Lobbyists rely on a few tricks and preconditions. Mostly talking to semi-informed public crowds and not really discussing with representatives of the other opinion. They are not trying to convice the other side but those in the middle of the discussion, the decision makers. If someone does not know all alternatives and different effects in detail, it is quite simple to point out the "ideal solution at hand". Subconcious programming through repetition, the Law of Attraction (New Thought Theory) and "undermining the knowledge base" are good ones too.
Even Lobbyists dont really lie, they dont mention things and facts and therefore deprive the target group of relevant knowledge. The more someone knows, the harder it is to convince him of a new idea. Knowledge can protect him/her of making a wrong or even harmful decision. Still knowledge is a believe, what you "know" might be flawed and you might base your decision on misinformation. As a Lobbyist, fighting for a decision in your favour against other lobby groups, it is not only about convincing someone of the idea at hand. If both solutions sound right for the target audience it becomes more a question of convincing the target audience that you know more and better.