Drivers of Adoption: Innovation and Behavioural Theory

From energypedia


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

Knowledge 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.
Persuasion In this stage the individual is interested in the innovation and actively seeks information/detail about the innovation.
Decision 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.
Implementation 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.
Confirmation 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).[1]

-> More on this topic under: - Diffusion of innovations

Theory of Perceived Attributes

Rogers identified 5 determinants of the rate of adoption:

  1. The innovation must have some relative advantage over an existing innovation or the status quo.
  2. The the innovation must be compatible with existing values and practices.
  3. The innovation cannot be too complex.
  4. The innovation must have trialability and can be tested for a limited time without adoption.
  5. 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.

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 (TAM- 1,2 and 3) and Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT)

Although focussed on information systems and computer usage, the Technology Acceptance Models (TAM) (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 Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT).

-> An overview of all these models can be found on

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 (TPB) 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.[2]

Further Information

  • Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) - Dr. V. Venkatesh
  • Wikipedia - Diffusion of Innovations
  • Impact Portal on energypedia
  • IGEN-ACCESS programme of GIZ India (2015): Part 1 and Part 2. GIZ-Selco partnerships build up a database of innovative processes across categories and suggest those with high potential for replication in various contexts. This is an effort to identify innovations with high potential for replication and facilitate implementation of the same on the ground. These innovative processes are an important add-on to the current efforts of incubating new energy entrepreneurs, where the focus has largely been on business processes, logistics, sales and technical processes and local ecosystem building. Innovation, in this context, would be defined as the introduction of a unique product, service, system, process or approach or a combination of more than one, influenced by the specific needs in a certain geography or community that requires alternate approaches for undertaking the technological, financial and/or dissemination aspects of the solution.