THE BUYING CENTER FROM A DIFFUSION THEORY PERSPECTIVE (INNOVATION,
APPLE, LOYAL EUGENE; PHD
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL, 1985
BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, MARKETING (0338)
This study used diffusion theory constructs to examine the adoption and implementation
multiple business unit firms, including attention to the participation of their buying centers in this process.
Rate variables were used to measure the buying behavior of multi-unit firms with respect to one multiple
business-unit innovation, over time. Diffusion theory implies the presence of a corresponding initiation
center and implementation center within each firm, which influences the behavior of the buying center.
The technology chosen was that of Universal Product Code scanners in the supermarket industry, first
available in 1974. Data on supermarket characteristics and environment were obtained from archival data
bases at the Progressive Grocer Company and the Food Marketing Institute. The total penetration of
scanning in each of eighty firms and the annual penetration rate were measured along with elapsed time
from first adoption to the end of 1982. The size of each firm was measured in terms of dollar volume,
facility size, and number of units. Environment was estimated for market share, competitive environment,
and prevailing wage structure. Fifty-two responses from a mail survey of supermarket executives from the
eighty firms was performed to obtain decision criteria for adoption and the three levels of use of the
technology (institutionalization). A measure of the complexity of the uses of the technology was taken.
Field interviews with two executives from each of eight supermarket chains provided data on influences
on the buying center by members of the implementation function. The responses were ordered by
penetration rate within each level of institutionalization. Analysis was by item, issue, and firm.
Correlational and multiple regression methods were used to estimate the relationships in a model of the
buying behavior of firms. A high dollar volume configuration of the firm's units and the decision criterion
'install scanning in all units' are associated with high penetration of the technology in the firm. Large
company facility size was associated with earliness of adoption. Penetration and earliness of adoption
predict the level of institutionalization. ROI and managerial values played a positive role. Implementation
was pictured as a political process. Managerial implications were drawn, as were implications for both
buying center and diffusion theory areas.
Social Systems Simulation Group
P.O. Box 6904
San Diego, CA 92166-0904
Roland Werner, Principal
Phone/FAX (619) 660-1603