Original innovation holds great promise for economic development, however its effects on the economy materialise only after technology becomes widely available. Technology diffusion and from a micro-analytical perspective, adoption, is the major interface between technical change and events of economic significance. Unequal access to technology is one of the major reasons for global income disparities. Identifying and lifting barriers to the spread and adoption of economically useful innovations is a major concern for policy makers everywhere. This concern is amplified given the recent proliferation of technologically-driven network industries such as Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Biotechnology. The rapid pace of technical change in such industries as well as the strong lock-in effects they exhibit, increase the impetus for improving technological receptiveness.
The above have contributed to a vibrant academic interest in innovation matters, albeit one that has focused overwhelmingly on the contextual factors affecting the creation of new ideas; and while there have been numerous recent empirical contributions to the study of diffusion, they have yet to be accompanied by a comprehensive update of the 'big picture' as is emerging in literature. Through this monograph, the author hopes to contribute towards closing this gap. The present monograph presents an up-to-date collection of major empirical contributions to diffusion literature, mainly from an industrial economics perspective. The volume begins with a theoretical outline of the diffusion process and a presentation of analytical tools for the study of diffusion. These include definitional and measurement issues, a diffusion-centred taxonomy of technology as well as an outline of applicable econometric methods. The author then uses summaries of topical case studies to examine the varying importance of a technology's characteristics, the adopter set and other contextual factors.
Recent works highlight that technology diffusion is often far from a mechanical, positive-yields driven process and underline the importance of strategic considerations, social networking and contextual specificities. The volume aims to help researchers with an interest in the study of diffusion, its empirical applications and policy interpretations. Nevertheless, conclusions drawn would be of interest not only to academics, but also to policy makers, company managers and marketers.