Rogers reviewed a huge amount of studies about the innovation-diffusion literature which mainly focused on three questions: what methods and relationships elements influence innovations' rates of diffusion? Which are the peculiarities between earlier and later adopters? How the networks influence the diffusions?

Kimberly (1981) evinced these questions were highly realistic during the post World War II era of U.S. economic ruling since innovation implicated a consequent growth and forecasted that the literature on innovation was likely to change significantly through a more dubious view (1981 - 1985).

This article maintains that fads or fashion have spread both inefficient innovations and efficient innovations to turn down among U.S. organizations. These effects may have a double interpretations: organizations could not adopt any type of innovations even if they were technically proficient or researches would support a more practical knowledge for managers.

The second passage of the article claims that there is a strong innovation-diffusion literature based on the fact that technically efficient choices are made by rational supporters (Rogers 1962 - 1983). This productive choice argues about the attitudes used to expand innovations.

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The third section is about the effects of innovation-diffusion theories.


This passage revolves about the diffusion of both innovative administration and non administrative studies [1] .

In fashion literature the word "trend" is typically used for administrative theories which embrace a wide range from an harmful organization, a little promoting achievement to a particular efficient technically technology.

On this matter it is thought that practical knowledge should be effective only through a steady caution supported procedure. However these studies have pointed out some inconvenients: technologies cannot sold trend problems because they become prematurely too outdated.


There are many supporters of pro-innovation tendencies due to the fact that they think these tendencies profit organizations, indeed they spread if they are positive nevertheless they vanish if they are unproductive.

To investigate on questions that do not reflect pro-innovations tendencies, theorists must consider the supplemented suppositions, the contrasting hypothesis and work out on the less prevalent ones.

So theorists have to figure out the opposing suppositions, a different synthesis of them and then the inefficient or efficient technologies.

Assumptions in the Dominant Perspective

Rogers claimed that an organization's group can adopt pro-innovation tendencies because of their demonstrated efficiency so that rational managers will be attracted by the attained productive targets.

Generating Counterassumptions

Another matter to consider is the influence of organizations outside or within the group, not to spread inefficient administrative technologies or to motivate the rejection of efficient technologies.

Consequently it is thought the former drives to a forced selection perspective, while the latter drives to an efficient choice perspective.

To clear targets and efficient administrative evaluation, it is important to understand if organizations make independent rationally efficient selections.

We begin out procedure assuming that organizations have nuclear targets and are doubtful about the technical efficiency of administrative technologies (March and Olsen, 1976).

So we say they are unable and undetermined to rate their technical efficiency and, as a result, they imitate or reject other administrative technology's organizations (Di Maggio and Powell, 1983; Thompson, 1967).

Therefore we classify an imitation procedure which induces the diffusion of innovations and another one which does not.

The Efficient-Choice Perspective

This heading recalls that agents usually and rationally select the most efficiently innovations to achieve a highly production and successfully targets.

Explaining diffusion: Theories in the efficient-choice perspective recommend that environmental changes originate discrepancies or performance gaps which are either the organization's targets or the targets that the organization may reach.

On this matter there are two types of explanations: demand pull some which generate performance gaps among similar target orientations' organizations; supply push some which present new or close old performance gaps.

However, whatever explanation is supported, theorists select the same efficient administrative technology to respond to performance gaps.

Willimason's interpretation (1970) stated that organizations, which tended to maximize profits, used the M form, due to its technical efficiency in contrast to the U form.

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The conclusion to many researches and studies imply that:

Proposition 1: Performance gaps will prompt the diffusion of innovations only among organizations that can efficiently close these gaps by adopting these innovations.

However theorists identify some exceptions to this proposition.

Indeed organizations, through administrative technologies, have to increase and not to compare their competitive advantage.

Nevertheless organizations must understand that competitors will imitate their efficient administrative technology eliminating their advantage (Sherer and Ross, 1990).

Explaining rejection: It is important to underline that studies which use the efficient-choice perspective do not evidence either the diffusion or rejection of administrative technologies.

Theorists such as Chandler (1962) remarked that the U form spread successfully during the economic expansion of 1896, while Rumelt (1974) noted that the U form had declined intensely by 1969 because it did not answer to the diversification strategies of administrative problems.

Indeed Chandler's and Rumelt's studies explain the rejection of an administrative technology: as soon as they reduce performance gaps through technologies, they become less popular, but consequently new performance gaps can occur.

So the conclusions suggest that:

Proposition 2: Organizations in a group will tend to reject an innovation when environmental changes render it less technically efficient in closing these organizations' performance gaps.

The Forced-Selection Perspective

Organizational theories have pointed out that powerful organizations take an interest both in impelling a technically inefficient administrative technology or rejecting an efficient technology.

Explaining diffusion: It is important to note that many organizations can utter about which administrative technologies to spread through powerful governmental bodies or national labor unions. These studies suggest that:

Proposition 3: Technically inefficient innovations will tend to diffuse among groups of organizations when these innovations receive the backing of powerful organizations outside these groups.

Explaining rejection: Researchers have pointed out two thoughts: on one had there are organizations which have a uniform concept about a peculiar administrative technology; whereas instead on the other hand there are organizations which have different options and so they are forced by political pressures to reject a technology. This conclusion implies that:

Proposition 4: A group of organizations will tend to reject a technically efficient innovation when organizations, outside this group, exerting political pressures to reject this innovation, have greater power than those exerting pressures to retain it.

Cole (1985) makes a study on this conclusion in some countries and he notes that in Japan and in Sweden, during the 1960s and 1970s, labor unions and national corporations of managers sustained the spreading of participative management technologies. As an alternative, in the United States the participative management technologies become unpopular.

The Fashion Perspective

In the range of uncertain environmental forces, targets and technical efficiency it is stated that organizations will imitate other organizations (Di Maggio and Powell, 1983; Thompson, 1967).

Indeed organizations' conclusions concentrate on the organizations' models rather than technology.

The fashion perspective presumes that during a vague period organizations reproduce administrative models supported by consulting firms or business mass media.

So the innovation-diffusion literature may only examine variations in adoption rates (Mahajan and Peterson, 1985).

Explaining diffusion: According to Blumer's study (1969) it is important to identify that administrative models become fashionable due to organizations' development and understanding, and not by direct popular request.

Hirsch (1972) enlarged this thought noted that networks of specialized organizations set books, records and notion pictures' fashions.

Nevertheless Hirsch (1972) did not examine administrative fashion setting networks which have been taken in exam by Abrahamson (1986) who proposed that business school and consulting firms, because of their experienced popularity, have to promote these fashions.

Organizational theorists have maintained that fashion setters do not have the same power of governmental organizations or labor unions but they inspire a conviction to be imitated.

The fashion perspective notes that:

Propositions 5: Technically inefficient innovations will tend to diffuse among organizations when organizations in fashion-setting networks promote them.

Fashion-setting organizations might affect the diffusion of efficient and profitable technologies regardless the real technical efficiency of the technologies.

Explaining rejection: Organizational theorists claimed that new administrative technologies force old ones to be centralized and decentralized in organizations as soon as they become reciprocal exclusive. This conclusion suggest that:

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Proposition 6: Organizations will tend to reject old technically efficient innovations when fashion-setting networks introduce mutually exclusive replacements.

Popular fashionable technologies may fail because of their symbolical or emotional efficiency.

Sometimes a technology realizes more a hope, an innovativeness or a boredom's relief than technical functions. However, over the time, an innovative administrative technology may loose its target, the hopes may not be satisfied, the innovativeness may not be reached and even boredom may reoccur.

So consequently organizations may reject these symbolical and emotional fashionable administrative technologies. Therefore these conclusions suggest that:

Proposition 7: Over time, organizations will tend to reject technically efficient innovations promoted by fashion-setting networks.

The Fad Perspective

When we speak about the fad and fashion perspectives we note that organizations imitate other organizations assuming decisions according to an uncertain situation.

The latter presume that organizations reproduce organizations such as management consulting firms outside that group, while the former state that organizations within that group-theorists have explained the fad perspective following two descriptions.

The first one as a core of knowledge communication, social interactions and economic interests.

So we have some peculiar explanations because organizations imitate other organizations: as regard knowledge communication, they decrease the uncertainly of innovations; as regard social interactions they are authorized to comply with ratifying emergent norms to these innovations; as regard economic interests they refrain from a competitive advantage gained by competitors who use this innovation.

The second one according to the individual characteristics, numbers and interactions of organizations.

If we consider the individual characteristics we desume that organizations with certain low characteristics imitate organizations with corresponding high characteristics. For example Walker (1969) stated that some American states with a lower reputation approved regulations adopted by states with a higher reputation. If we consider numbers we desume that organizations may face "band-wagon pressures", innovations depending on the number of adopting organizations (Abrahamson and Rosenkopf, 1990; Arthur, 1988; Katz and Shapiro, 1985; Mansfield, 1961).

Finally if we consider interactions, organizations imitate other organizations nearby either geographically or in their communication networks (Burt, 1987; Galaskiewicz and Wasserman, 1989).

This literature generally analysed only the variations in diffusion rates of imitation process and not the processes which respond this diffusion. So we do not examine either negative or positive aspects of the influence of innovations' diffusion. If we did we could point out models to diffuse or to reject administrative technologies.

Furthermore these models can be the start of both impelling pressures to diffuse a technology by defeating the contrasting pressures and the stopping or the rejecting of the diffusion.

Explaining diffusion: Literature proposes two types of counter mechanism for "contagious diffusion" namely when organizations reproduced other organizations which are reproduced in turn.

One type is when organizations either stopping contagious imitation or restraining its area. The second one is limiting the numbers of adopters.

Theories for contagious diffusion are considered according to the communication of knowledge and we estimate two protectors: heterophily and disconnectedness. Rogers (1983: 18) made a definition or the two matters: he stated heterophilly as "the degree to which pairs of individuals who interacts are different in certain attributes". According to his definitions we can say that heterophyllous organizations are more resistant to imitate each other (Rogers 1983).

Furthermore "disconnectedness" is the word to name the degree to which an organization is not related to others in a communication network. So we can state that disconnected organizations should learn less and be more protected to imitate the adopters' decisions.

We have to consider definitions according to social interactions and economic interests.

The former focuses on organizations which are bound to institutional norms and consequently they have greater or lesser protection by imitating other organizations' innovations (Granovetter, 1978).

The latter points out that an organization with uncertain conditions will work out its positive or negative expected returns in adopting an innovation (Abrahamson and Rosenkopf, 1990).

Then we have to take into consideration theories about the demography of protectors which acts on the diffusion of innovations.

Granovetter (1978) explained that his theories work out on repeating development; indeed if we have characters with lower outset consequently they will decrease their conventionality power, so we have to increase the number of adopters.

Namely increasing the number of adopters, we increase pressures to imitate others' adoption decisions.

This theory gives a repeating effect, therefore it has a big impact in the beginning of imitation. However we have to underline that different demographics of protections work out different diffusion systems. This theory suggests that:

Proposition 8: The propensity of organization in a group to imitate each other's decisions to adopt a technically inefficient innovation will vary with the nature of pressures impelling imitation and the demography of immunities in that group to succumbing to this pressure.

Explaining rejection: We have to consider that in some cases highly technically inefficient administrative technologies could give a great disadvantage to the organizations and could lead to the extreme act of bankruptcy (Hannan and Freeman, 1977). Indeed sometimes organizations may understand, during the use of this particular administrative technology its inefficiency (Van de Ven and Polley, 1990) and its dissipating faddish appeal (Abrahamson, 1986).

We have to take into consideration also the abolishing of this inefficient technology because of counter-band-wagons namely when an organization approve a peculiar administrative technology to increase its advantage on competitors but when competitors imitate it, its advantage is over and organization has to reject the administrative technology and has to approve another one (Carrol and Hannan, 1989). Another aspect is the organization's selection of a technology that tend to be different from other lower reputations' competitors, but consequently an imitation of them.

In this case organization has to reject the technology and to select a new one to redefine its higher reputation. These two processes, anyway, tend to start off a cycle of band-wagon rejections.

We have to highlight that organizations may be more or less unaffected by imitating other organizations' decisions to reject an administrative technology. This study suggests that:

Proposition 9: The propensity of organizations to imitate each other's decisions to reject a technically efficient innovation will vary with the nature of pressures impelling and countering imitation and the demography of immunities in that group to succumbing to these pressures.


This article proposes four prospects in order to assume the organizations' processes to diffuse or to reject innovations and consequently both their technical efficiency or inefficiency. These prospects are taken into consideration through various points of view.

Firstly we consider two statements: a "contingent one" and a "paradox one".

The former is explained by theorists who work out organizations' innovations accordingly to their certainty or uncertainty of their technical efficiency (Meyer and Rowan, 1977). The fad perspective would be successful because it supposes uncertainty about innovations' technical efficiency.

Moreover many innovations may only duplicate the types that theorists could itemize.

Indeed many innovations may have a different level of uncertainty depending on organization and diffusion.

Researchers may work on hypothesis that only partially match with the examined study.

So Van de Ven and Poole (1988) and Poole and Van de Ven (1989) suggested the latter resolution: taking advantage from paradoxes through various prospects. Indeed they defined paradoxes as "interesting tensions, oppositions and contradictions between theories which create conceptual difficulties" (Poole and Van de Ven, 1989: 564).

Consequently they worked out some devices such as: a) clarify levels of analysis; b) take time into account; c) introduce new terms in order to take advantage from paradoxes and make out of them new theoretical evolutions.

We consider paradoxes originated by four prospects and therefore we will be able to theorize suitable innovations. Accordingly to this paradox we can state that each prospect describes some aspects of every innovation. Therefore, researchers can match two or more of the prospects to form multiple theories. Through this method it is possible to explain various administrative and non-administrative innovations such as productions technologies, strategic actions and entrepreneurial ventures in profit, not-for-profit, industrial, service diffusion contexts.

Thereby this approach works out new pragmatic solutions.

How to Exploit Paradoxes on the Outside-Influence Dimension

Some prospects state that organizations outside a group of organizations will influence innovations within these groups. So we can say that:

Propositions 10: Perspectives that assume that organizations outside a group of organization will determine the diffusion of innovation within that group will have high explanatory power in contexts in which these outside organizations have both an interest in directing the diffusion of innovations and sufficient power to do so.

To the contrary:

Propositions 11: Perspective that assume that organizations within a group will determine the diffusion of innovation within that group will have high explanatory power in contexts in which organizations outside that group either have no interest in directing the diffusion of innovations or insufficient power to do so.

We provide a specification's example to understand when the contingency resolution is insufficient and we have to use a paradox resolution.

Proposition 10 implies that during wars or depression it is more convenient to use forced-selection prospects because many sectors wait for governmental help to face these crisis.

On the contrary, in non-crisis contexts other prospects are more valuable because they state that organizations are free of governmental influence.

We have to consider a diffusion context where organizations outside a group either apply absolute influence or no influence over organizations. Moreover, researchers will have to use a paradox resolution to enlarge prospects for the diffusion of innovations in these types.

It is important to find a type of prospect to explain the diffusion of innovation if organizations outside a group or national labor unions or management consulting firms apply some but not absolute control. Consequently, it is important to find paradoxes between perspectives based on contradictory assumptions, such as: a) outside organizations control the diffusion of innovations; b) organizations freely select innovations.

A similar resolution masters pressions between efficient-choice and forced-selection prospects through a new term such as "political efficiency" to different from "technical efficiency" as it was mentioned before. This solution may simultaneously consider either the political and the technical costs. The former is about an organization in a group of organizations non-conformed to external pressures, while the latter takes into consideration an organization adopting a technically inefficient innovation.

Therefore this resolution states that organizations should examine both political and technical efficiency of innovation and consequently use the list-cost option.

This solution suggests that:

Proposition 12: Technically inefficient innovations backed by organizations outside a group of organizations should diffuse only among organizations, within that group, for which the political costs of not conforming to pressures exerted by outside organizations exceed the technical costs of adopting technically inefficient innovations.


Proposition 13: Widespread rejections of technically efficient innovation opposed by organizations outside a group of organizations will occur only among organizations, within that group, for which the political costs of not conforming to pressures exerted by outside organizations exceed the technical gains from retaining these technically efficient innovations.

Another resolution masters pressions between fad and fashion prospects. Indeed fashion-setting organizations may decide to promote innovations which have an economic interest and a reinforce to their faddish diffusion. This solution suggests that:

Proposition 14: The faddish diffusion of technically inefficient innovations will prompt fashion-setting networks to back this diffusion.

Alternatively, organizations may adopt fashion setting networks innovations to highlight their reputations, and consequently lower reputations organizations may imitate them. This explanations suggests that:

Propositions 15: When fashion-setting networks back the diffusion of technically inefficient innovations, they will tend to promote their faddish diffusion.

All these propositions have the aim to submit a large variety of paradoxes and suggestions which could produce other theories of different innovations and diffusion conditions.

How to Exploit Paradoxes on the Imitation-Focus Dimension

Theories on the imitation focus dimension should underline that organizations are uncertain about environmental impacts, goals and technical efficiency.

This interpretation suggests that:

Propositions 16: Perspectives that assume that imitation processes impel the diffusion of innovation will have highest explanatory power when innovation or diffusion contexts create uncertainty about environmental influences, organizational goals or technical efficiency.

To the contrary:

Proposition 17: Perspectives that assume that imitation processes do not impel the diffusion of innovations will have highest explanatory power when innovation or diffusion contexts do not create uncertainty about environmental influences, organizational goals or technical efficiency.

Organizations face strong uncertainty about the technical efficiency of nuclear outputs and weak uncertainty about production technologies (Meyer and Rowan, 1977).

Other theorists state that organizational goals produce a great uncertainty in not-for-profit sectors.

Consequently fad and fashions prospects explain a great power in the diffusion of administrative technologies in not-for-profit sectors as Proposition 16 states.

On the contrary Proposition 17 explains the diffusion and rejection of production technologies in for-profit sectors.

These types of prospects are only useful when innovations or contexts have a high or low uncertainty aspects. But this situation is almost infrequent. To understand how innovations diffuse in the different contexts it is important to resolve the paradoxes between the different prospects.

Some indications to resolve paradoxes between theories on the imitation- focus dimension are already existing.

Therefore there is a replication study which asserts that after the partial diffusion of administrative technologies, there was no more efficient-choice adoption explanations.

Rumelt (1974), adopting a multidivisional structure between 1949 and the early 1960s, solved administrative problems due to diversification strategies.

Besides, Tolbert and Zucker (1984) made a correlation between city size percentage of foreign born population and city government's adoptions of civil service between the years 1885 and 1914 but not between 1914 and 1935 (cf. Baron, Dobbin and Jennings, 1986; Meyer, Stevenson and Webster, (1985).

Therefore fad and fashion prospects could be the explanation of the diffusion of technically inefficient technologies in these later periods.

Consequently this explanation suggests a transitory resolution of paradoxes on the imitation level, such that:

Propositions 18: Rational choices may trigger technically efficient adoptions in the early stages of diffusion, whereas faddish pressures or fashion-setting networks may drive technically inefficient adoption in later stages of the diffusion of innovations.


Proposition 19: Rational choices may trigger technically efficient rejections in the early stages of diffusion, whereas faddish pressures or fashion-setting networks may drive technically inefficient rejections in later stages of the diffusion of innovations.

We have to consider at least two other correlative resolutions of paradoxes on the imitation-focus dimension. The first is about levels of analysis which explain the diffusion of innovations. These levels state that various independent individual organizations choose the most technically efficient innovation to diffuse. Fad theories point out the group level of analysis.

These theories demonstrate that adoptions in a group of organizations with internal pressures can lead to force the diffusion of innovations in other groups' organizations: therefore, if we put together efficient choice and fad theories, we can maintain that at the beginning some unrelated adoption decisions could start group pressures forcing the later diffusion.

Therefore, this resolution can extend across adoptions and the diffusions of innovations (Abrahamson and Rosenkopt, 1990).

Then we have to consider the second resolution which involves cultural and behavioural innovations. Indeed these types of changes bring for the former a different opinion in organizations' goals and their theories; on the other side, the latter provokes disparate variation in organizations' actions.

Therefore researchers can take advantage from paradoxes which examine these two branches. Actually, efficient-choice theories do not work out the origins, the beliefs or the efficiency of organizations' goals, but they study only the organizations' choices to innovations. On the contrary, some fashion theories do only pay attention to the network of fashion setters and do not investigate why fashion setters promote some goals and beliefs.

Originally we can say that some organizations adopt technically efficient innovations, fashion setters decide to promote them and consequently other organizations realize that they can achieve the same goals so they decide to adopt them.

Actually we can say that efficient and inefficient choices may evolve as innovations diffuse and the cycle above mentioned may go on.


The efficient-choice prospects' theories maintain that organizations independently and rationally adopt technically efficient innovations, but they do not explain their diffusion or their rejection.

Actually efficient-choice theories support pro-innovation tendencies.

So, starting from contrary assumptions, we have worked out three more prospects.

The fad perspective states that organizations in a group feel uncertain about their goals and also about the efficiency of innovations and they are less influenced by organizations outside the group.

Consequently, these organizations can have the same approach to imitate inefficient innovations or to reject efficient ones.

The fashion perspective grants influences on organizations in a group applied by organizations outside the group.

The forced-selection perspective, recognizing low uncertainty and outside influences by organizations, recalls the attention of governmental regulators or labor unions.

We have underlined that these types of solution might work out the diffusion and the rejection of innovations among organizations with the same problems expressed in these solutions.

Actually we could face organizations with completely different characteristics or sometimes with moderate differences; consequently the efficient-choice, forced-selection, fad or fashion solutions could not be applied and furthermore they could not explain the diffusion of inefficient innovation or the rejection of efficient ones.

Moreover we have taken into consideration researchers who have developed new theories by profiting from paradoxes among the various types of solutions.

While mastering pro-innovation tendencies and suppositions in the innovation diffusion literature, organizational theorists have worked out new theories about the diffusion of technically inefficient innovations and the rejection of technically efficient one. By doing that, theorists had to face also anti-innovation tendencies. Consequently researchers had to recognize diffusion processes, according to fad or fashion solutions, their damaging to organizations' economic performances and their benefit.

Fads and fashion may benefit organizations if they are looking to innovativeness or may be worth economically. Actually innovations may raise capital or attract new customers because organizations may look innovative or ethnical. However fad and fashion have few symbolic or political efficiencies but they cannot be considered a damage for organizations. Strategic planning units did not have a direct function on organizations but they are useful to draw attention on strategic planning. Therefore administrative fads and fashions may be important to focus attention on some unresolved problems of organizations.

Finally fads and fashion encourage the diffusion and rejection of innovation, without taking into consideration their technical efficiencies as the popular press denounces (Business Week, 1986).

But sometimes organizations have to adopt or to reject many technically inefficient innovations during their searching to find an efficient one. However the adoption or the rejection of fads and fashions may be more economic than using a technically efficient innovation.