Mechanisms of Innovation Diffusion Under Information Abundance and Information Scarcity—On the Contribution of Social Networks in Group Vs. Individual Extension Approaches in Semi-Arid Kenya
Purpose: The objective of this paper is to assess the effectiveness of innovation diffusion under group-oriented and individual-oriented extension. Current theoretical notions of innovation diffusion in social networks shall be briefly reviewed, and the concepts of ‘search’ and ‘innovation’ vis-a`-vis ‘transfer’ and ‘imitation’ mechanisms (Hansen, 1999; Liu et al., 2005) shall be expanded to also explain diffusion in contexts of information abundance and information scarcity.
Design/methodology/approach: This paper comparatively investigates two types of networks that ideally represent strong and weak kinds of social relationship, viz. farmer groups and casual communication networks. Aggregated adoption scores of 22 agricultural and agroforestry innovations serve to operationalize household innovativeness. Semi-structured interviews with 433 households and qualitative expert interviews constitute the major data collection tools.
Findings: This study shows that innovations primarily disseminate through strong and cohesive networks in situations of information abundance, with the ‘transfer’ mechanism being of major importance. Conversely, innovation diffusion is more effective through weakly knit networks and the ‘search’ mechanism under information scarcity.
Practical implications: This paper’s practical relevance lies in showing that farmer groups are the most effective pathways of innovation diffusion in either of the investigated extension approaches; and that farmer groups are more effectively contributing to innovation spread when actively addressed through a group extension approach.
Originality/value: While advancing current theoretical notions, the results also allow a better explanation of the more satisfactory performance of group approaches in practical extension work.
Darr, D. & Pretzsch, J. 2008. Mechanisms of Innovation Diffusion Under Information Abundance and Information Scarcity—On the Contribution of Social Networks in Group Vs. Individual Extension Approaches in Semi-Arid Kenya. Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension. 14 (3):231-248.