a professional, how do you rate yourself as an adopter of change?
| Everett Rogers in his book "Diffusion
of Innovations" offers five adopter categories. After reading
each category description below, please take a one question survey
indicating your personal evaluation as a professional. You will
have the option to submit anonymously if you so choose.
Everett M. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations, Fifth Edition.
New York, NY: Free Press /Amazon
Observers have noted that
venturesomeness is almost an obsession with innovators. They
are very eager to try new ideas. This interest leads them out
of a local circle of peer networks and into more cosmopolite
social relationships. Communication patterns and friendships
among a clique of innovators are common, even though the geographical
distance between the innovators may be considerable. Being an
innovator has several prerequisites. These include control of
substantial financial resources to absorb the possible loss
owing to an unprofitable innovation and the ability to understand
and apply complex technical knowledge. The innovator must be
able to cope with the high degree of uncertainty about an innovation
at the time that the innovator adopts.
The salient value of the innovator is venturesomeness. He or
she desires the hazardous, the rash, the daring and the risky.
The innovator must also be willing to accept an occasional setback
when one of the new ideas he or she adopts proves unsuccessful,
as inevitably happens. While an innovator may not be respected
by the other members of a social system, the innovator plays
an important role in the diffusion process: that of launching
the new idea in the social system by importing the innovation
from outside of the system’s boundaries. Thus, the innovator
plays a gate keeping roles in the flow of new ideas into a social
Early Adopters: Respectable
Early adopters are a more integrated part of the local social
system then are innovators. Whereas innovators are cosmopolites,
early adopters are localities. This adopter category, more than
any other, has the greatest degree of opinion leadership in
most social systems. Potential adopters look to early adopter
for advice and information about the innovation. The early adopter
is considered by many as “the individual to check with”
before using a new idea. This adopter category is generally
sought by change agents to be a local missionary for speeding
the diffusion process. Because early adopters aren’t too
far ahead of the average individual in innovativeness, they
serve as a role model for many other members of a social system.
The early adopter is respected by his or her peers, and is the
embodiment of successful and discrete use of new ideas. And
the early adopter knows that to continue to earn this esteem
of colleagues and to maintain a central position in the communication
structure of the system, he or she must make judicious innovations
decisions. So the role of the early adopter is to decrease uncertainty
about a new idea by adopting it, and then conveying a subjective
evaluation of the innovation to near-peers by means of interpersonal
Early Majority: Deliberate
The early majority
adopt new ideas just before the average member of a social system.
The early majorities interact frequently with their peers, but
seldom hold leadership positions. The early majority’s
unique position between the very early and the relatively late
to adopt makes them an important link in the diffusion process.
They provide interconnectedness in the system’s networks.
The early majority may deliberate for some time before completely
adopting g new idea. Their innovation-decision period is relatively
longer than that of the innovator and the early adopter. “Be
not the first by which the new is tried, /Nor the last to lay
the old aside” (quoted from Alexander Pope at the beginning
of this chapter), might be the early majority’s motto.
They follow with deliberate willingness in adopting innovations,
but seldom lead.
Late Majority: Skeptical
The late majority
adopt new ideas just after the average member of a social system.
Adoption may be both an economic necessity and the answer to
increasing network pressures. Innovations are approached with
a skeptical and cautious air, and the late majority do not adopt
until most others in their social system have done so. The weight
of system norms must definitely favor the innovation before
the late majority are convinced. They can be persuaded of the
utility of new ideas, but the pressure of peers is necessary
to motivate adoption. Their relatively scarce resources mean
that almost all of the uncertainty about a new idea must be
removed before the late majority feel that it is safe to adopt.
Laggards are the last in
a social system to adopt an innovation. They possess almost
no opinion leadership. They are the most localite in their outlook
of all adopter categories; many are near isolates in social
networks. The point of reference for the laggard is the past.
Decisions are often made in terms of what has been done in previous
generations and these individuals interact primarily with others
who also have relatively traditional values. When laggards finally
adopt an innovation, it may already have been superseded by
another more recent idea that is already being used by the innovators.
Laggards tend to be frankly suspicious of innovations and change
agents. Their traditional orientation slows the innovation-decision
process to a crawl, with adoption lagging far behind awareness-knowledge
of a new idea. While most individuals in a social system are
looking to the road of change ahead, the laggard’s attention
is fixed on the rear-view mirror. This resistance to innovations
on the part of laggards may be entirely rational from the laggard’s
viewpoint, as their resources are limited and so they must be
relatively certain that a new idea will not fail before they
can afford to adopt. The laggard’s precarious economic
position forces these individuals to be extremely cautious in
Many observers have noted that “laggard” is a bad
name, and it is undoubtedly true that this title of the adopter
category carries an invidious distinction (in much the same
way that “lower class” is a negative nomenclature).
Laggard is a bad name because most nonlaggards have a strong
pro-innovation bias. Diffusion scholars who use adopter categories
in their research do not mean any particular disrespect by the
term “laggard.” Indeed if they used any other term
instead of laggards, it would soon have a similar negative connotation.
Bit it is a mistake to imply that laggards are somehow at fault
for being relatively late to adopt; this is an illustration
of individual-blame where system-blame may more accurately describe
much of the reality of the laggards’ situation.