At the beginning of my PhD, I tried to read the most I could. In this period, I came across a really interesting theory: the diffusion of innovations. It was proposed by Everett M. Rogers and is described on a book with almost 600 pages which first edition was published in 1962 and in 2003 was on its fifth edition.
I didn’t read the whole book… yet. I should return to it in the future but it has really nice stories in the beginning to illustrate the problem of promoting an innovation.
A story that got my attention was a project to instruct people from a Peruvian village to boil water before drinking it. Although this seems obvious to us who live in a “developed” society, the process of boiling the water clashed with a deep-rooted belief of this people. In their culture, they believe that every food, liquid, or other objects have an intrinsic quality of being “hot” or “cold.” For example, water is considered “very cold.” But, they believe that sick people should avoid the extremes, so, in this situation, they should boil the water to make it “hot.” Then, the problem is that boiled water is considered a drink for sick people and they dislike it otherwise.
This story shows it is not enough to think that an innovation is good. The potential adopters should perceive it as useful based on their beliefs and thoughts. This has consequences to startups bringing a new product but also for those, like me, that want to research practices’ adoption among startups. As a side note, this could be also useful now to understand people that do not want to take the covid vaccine. This theory is so interesting that I’ll return to it on further posts.