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Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory: An Application to Communicating with Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Beneficiaries

Wednesday May 08, 2024 11:30 am



By Prof. Aniefiok Udoudo
Uyo,   News


Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory: An Application to Communicating with Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Beneficiaries

A Paper Presented by Aniefiok Udoudo at a Two-Day Capacity Building Workshop for Stake Holders in Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Programme At Hilton Villa Hotel, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Wednesday, 20th and Thursday, 21st March, 2024

Introduction 

Everett Rogers’ diffusion of innovation theory explains the change process in human society and the attitudes of the change subjects towards the change over a period of time. Since change is a process which takes some time to occur, and in response to variance in the attitudes of the change subjects, the theory provides a recipe for following through the process of change to a conclusion. The theory acknowledges that to effect a change, there are various levels through which the change must take place. There are five levels through which innovation can take place, according to the theory. These levels are: 1. Innovators; 2. Early Adopters; 3. Early Majority; 4. Late Majority; and 5. The Laggards.

Explaining the Levels

For our clear understanding of the theory and what each level stands for, it is important to provide some explanation of each of the levels of the change process.


Participants


The Innovators

The innovators are those who are the first to be associated with the change or innovation. They are ready to not only accept the change but also to serve as change agents. They carry the message of change along with them and wish others to join the innovation process. The innovators are always very few because they are the ones who have decided to take the risk of a change process. They are always ready to tread the path of unknown through embracing innovation as it occurs. However, they are able to do this because of the conviction that they have of the new idea (change or innovation). They are brave and foresighted to be able to embrace innovation at the early stage of exposure.

The Early Adopters

The early adopters are the second level of people who have decided to embrace innovation as put forward to them by the innovators. This group, like the innovators are ready to take the risk of moving away from their former stance to a changed position. Although they may be larger than the innovators, their number is still relatively few. Their disposition to embracing change at the early stage gives them the advantage of being very familiar with the change and becoming change agents. They can always serve to promote change and its cause. Often, this group exercises some level of authority similar to the innovators’ when the change (innovation) becomes a subject of responsibility.

The Early Majority

The early majority are those who watch the innovation as it occurs and having observed the attendant benefits upon the innovation, would flock to embrace the innovation. This group consists of those who expect what they can benefit from a change but not necessarily what they can contribute to a change. However, their embracing the change in droves is a pointer to others that the change is worth accepting. Their embracing innovation serves as evidence of the benefits of the innovation. Although they do not serve as the innovators and the early adopters in trying to convince others, the early majority can also work as change agents through testimonies they provide of the benefits they have enjoyed from the innovation.

The late Majority

The late majority are those who even though have seen the benefits of innovation, still maintain some doubts on whether such benefits are sustainable. They are sceptical of the innovation and would want to give enough time to be sure that the benefits of the innovation are sustainable and are worth embracing. Upon conviction that the innovation is worth their attention, they troop out and join the crowd. The late majority are those who want to learn from the mistakes of the others (the early adopters and the early majority). They do not want to take any risk. They are the very careful type who cannot afford to make any mistake. However, in being so careful, the benefits enjoyed by the early adopters and the early majority are not accruable to them (the late majority).

The Laggards

The laggards are the last group in any change process. These are those who are very conservative and traditional in what they have accepted as a way of life or a practice. They are indeed, averse to change. Although they may have seen the benefits of innovation, they are not easily prone to change. They are always comfortable with the old way of life or practice. The laggards are always very difficult to change. 

Application of the Theory to Communicating with Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Beneficiaries

How is this theory applied to communicating with the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Beneficiaries? 

Presidential Amnesty Office is the Innovator

As we have discussed the various levels of diffusion of innovation, the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Office here serves as the innovator. It provides the innovation that it believes would help to make the amnesty beneficiaries change and enjoy the benefits that are underlying the programme. The Amnesty Office has introduced various innovation programmes aimed at changing the beneficiaries and making them enjoy the benefits of the amnesty. One of such programmes is this workshop.

You are the Early Adopters

All of you participating in this workshop represent the early adopters who, as a matter of fact, are the major change agents. It is presumed that you have embraced the message of change in time and are ready to change those who are still in the fields and are yet to fully embrace the message of change in a way that they will have to enjoy the full benefits of the amnesty programmes. You are expected to be the foot soldiers and the mouthpiece of the Niger Delta Amnesty Office in taking the message of change to those who are yet to embrace the change.

Go and Make the Early Majority

Since you are the foot soldiers and the mouthpiece of the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty Office by your expected role, you need to make the early majority out of the lots who are still in the field and yet to embrace the full message of the Amnesty Programme. They want to see you as their role models. They want to see the benefits they will enjoy from the programme through your life. They may not be converted to change only through the message you present to them but also and more importantly, through the way you live your life. They want to see that you are credible to give them the message of change by first of all seeing the change in you.

The Late Majority will learn from the Early Majority. 

These people are the ones who are waiting to see the benefits of change in those who have earlier decided to embrace your change message before they can join the change train. They are not convinced by your change message but they want to be convinced by the benefits they have seen in those who had earlier accepted the message of change. In other words, the testimonies given by those you have made earlier converts, will make them decide to join the bandwagon in order to benefit from the change. The sincerity in the change that they have witnessed in the earlier embracers will make them embrace the change. At this point, you have little or no task to carry out in changing them. Testimonies will do more of the work.

Do not be discouraged by the Laggards 

As a change agent, do not assume that all those that need be changed must be changed at appropriate set time or even when they are not ready for change at all. The laggards are there in the field who would not want to be changed. At the best, they would drag their feet and would be the last to be converted after a prolonged period of resistance. They are very conservative and traditional in their belief. They hold firm to their way of life and what they practise. They resist any attempt to change them from doing what they enjoy doing. If they must change, they will be the last to do so. Expect such people among those your message of change is channelled to and do not be discouraged. They are very few in number.


Participants

Conclusion 

Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation is a theory of change process and adoption always associated with technologies. However, the theory is equally applicable to any change process, especially in programmes and concepts that have to do with attitudinal change. Therefore, the application of the theory to attitudinal change of the Niger Delta Presidential Amnesty beneficiaries is very suitable. 

The application of the theory to the change of the programme beneficiaries has highlighted the requisite qualities that you, the participants need to possess and the efforts that you must put in place to be able to convert the beneficiaries fully to the expectation of the Presidential Amnesty Office which serves as the innovator of all innovations that are in the interest of the beneficiaries. It is hoped that if you (the participants) can apply the message of this paper to their field engagements, they will, no doubt, be able to change as many beneficiaries of the programme as possible.

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