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Who are the early adopters of innovation? // Innate innovativeness
Who are the early adopters of innovation? // Innate innovativeness

Do you know what innate innovativeness is? Does innovation acceptance depend on the innovation itself, early adopters or those that reject it? Academic opinion suggests all these things are important (Arts et al. 2011; Holak 1988; Rogers 2010).

But are these actually the only factors? How about compatibility, relative advantage and complexity? These undoubtedly influence adoption (Tornatzky & Klein 1982). Also some people are definitely born innovators! People have innate innovativeness (Im et al. 2003). How many adopters also have in-depth product knowledge (Hirschman 1980)? Even more will have some level of product involvement (Foxall 1996). Surely these people will accept innovations earlier than others. I believe I am one of these!

But it seems that much of the research into disruptive innovation does not define the differences between early adopters. What is it about innovative consumers and early adopters that make them drive successful innovations?

Early adopters and consumer innovativeness

I am coming back now to Reinhardt & Gurtner (2015). Trying to understand who these early adopters are they look at the three-level consumer innovativeness theory (Bartels & Reinders 2011; Hoffmann & Soyez 2010). It is a lens through which they view consumer innovativeness. This model sees innate innovativeness as the highest level of abstraction and trait-like in some people. It influences domain-specific innovativeness (van Rijnsoever & Donders 2009). This is the:

“ … tendency to learn about and adopt innovations (new products) within a specific domain of interest” (Goldsmith and Hofacker 1991, p. 211).

Actually they suggest individual innovativeness differs significantly in relation to product categories. Also domain-specific innovativeness influences the least abstract level of innovativeness. This is actual adoption of new products which is termed actualized innovativeness (Citrin et al. 2000; Hirunyawipada & Paswan 2006).

Innate innovativeness and disruptive innovation

But why do I think their research is interesting? Well, disruptive innovation theory does not consider differences in the effect of innate innovativeness on intention to adopt. Actually, disruptive innovation theory assumptions lead to a mix of predictions related to innate innovativeness.

For Christensen (2013) a disruptive innovation provides less functionality in primary performance dimensions. But often it performs better in secondary dimensions. Does functional innovativeness depend on relative importance of performance dimensions? Is this a distinction between disruptive and sustaining innovations? What about when disruptive innovations create new performance attributes? How does this enhance their primary performance functionality? How does social interaction motivate innovativeness? For example, we have seen in a previous article how communities innovate and crowdsource solutionsHedonic and cognitive innovativeness are also considered the same in relation to disruptive and sustaining innovations. When comparing disruptive innovations and sustaining innovations neither depend on how novel the product is. Could product innovativeness influence consumer intention to adopt (Hirschman 1980)? These social, hedonic, functional and cognitive are all relevant forces. They drive people to adopt both disruptive and sustaining innovations.

Innate innovativeness in disruptive businesses

Innate innovativeness in disruptive businesses
Innate innovativeness in disruptive businesses

But in a business context is  there a difference? How do businesses innovate and bring disruptive technologies into their strategies and operational practices? Can businesses be considered the same as consumers? What drives some businesses to adopt disruptive innovations early? Why do others adopt sustaining innovations? I personally am fascinated by this! In addition, there is increasingly more attention being given to these business practices both professionally and academically.

Businesses with innate innovativeness and my research

As part of my research I am looking at businesses that consider disruptive and emerging technologies part of their technology strategy. I want to know how they are used – can they for example be used to accelerate design, build and roll out next-generation solutions? Furthermore, how can business use them in think-tank labs? Are organisations using them to generate fresh ideas and thought leadership that realises the potential of disruptive innovation?

In addition, how to are best-practices exchanged? Furthermore, are there actually tools and best practices? Also, how could this help organisations build proofs of concept? Could this reduce risks and timeframes when adopting new technologies?

Therefore, in conclusion, organisations and businesses how can I start a conversations with you? Do you have an emerging technology strategy? Get in touch – I want to hear your opinion!

Part 1 // Part 2

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