Determination of the Minimum Number of Stages Necessary for Innovation Diffusion:
a meta-analysis

Roland Werner
Social Systems Simulation Group



"Gene Glass first used the term "meta-analysis" in 1976 to refer to a philosophy, not a statistical technique. Glass argued that literature review should be as systematic as primary research and should interpret the results of individual studies in the context of distributions of findings, partially determined by study characteristics and partially random" (Bangert-Drowns and Rudner 1991). Although most recent analyses are quantitative in nature since they count, enumerate, and measure, qualitative reviews of the literature are also desirable. This is done to determine what these studies have in common, how they differ, and whether any consensus can be reached among the authors regarding conclusions drawn. The following Table 1 summarizes such a comparison among 42 research studies from 1943 to 1967 to determine whether consensus exists among researchers in the minimum number of stages necessary for innovation diffusion. This analysis was done as part of my thesis; the term "meta-analysis" for this type of research had at that time not yet been invented.

In his book Diffusion of Innovation, Everett Rogers (1995) proposes five stages in the Innovation-Diffusion Process; to wit, Knowledge Stage, Persuasion Stage, Decision Stage, Implementation Stage, and Confirmation Stage (p.190). The need for stages was also proposed by him in his early publication on the subject (Rogers 1962). The utility of stages in not questioned, it is their number. When I was involved in research regarding innovation diffusion in the early seventies (Werner 1971), the question of the number of stages in the development of an innovation diffusion computer simulation model was paramount. What are the empirically determined necessary and sufficient number of stages for such an innovation diffusion model? I used a qualitative methodology (that later was called meta-analysis) to discover a consensus of the number of stages among several major innovation diffusion studies. I came to the conclusion that for modeling the innovation diffusion process only the Awareness Process and the Adoption Process were necessary and sufficient.



meta-analysis, innovation diffusion, diffusion of innovation, first hearing, first adopting, awareness process, adoption process, stages in the adoption process tradition, two-stage adoption process, rural sociology, marketing, advertising, validation, modeling, computer simulation


Copyright 2004 by Social Systems Simulation Group. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or author.

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