Understanding the early stages of the innovation diffusion process: awareness, influence and communication networks
Larsen, G. (2011) Understanding the early stages of the innovation diffusion process: awareness, influence and communication networks. Construction Management and Economics, 29 (10). pp. 987-1002. ISSN 1466-433x
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/01446193.2011.619994
The themes of awareness and influence within the innovation diffusion process are addressed. The innovation diffusion process is typically represented as stages, yet awareness and influence are somewhat under-represented in the literature. Awareness and influence are situated within the contextual setting of individual actors but also within the broader institutional forces. Understanding how actors become aware of an innovation and then how their opinion is influenced is important for creating a more innovation-active UK construction sector. Social network analysis is proposed as one technique for mapping how awareness and influence occur and what they look like as a network. Empirical data are gathered using two modes of enquiry. This is done through a pilot study consisting of chartered professionals and then through a case study organization as it attempted to diffuse an innovation. The analysis demonstrates significant variations across actors’ awareness and influence networks. It is argued that social network analysis can complement other research methods in order to present a richer picture of how actors become aware of innovations and where they draw their influences regarding adopting innovations. In summarizing the findings, a framework for understanding awareness and influence associated with innovation within the UK construction sector is presented. Finally, with the UK construction sector continually being encouraged to be innovative, understanding and managing an actor’s awareness and influence network will be beneficial. The overarching conclusion thus describes the need not only to build research capacity in this area but also to push the boundaries related to the research methods employed.