Anil K. Gupta/Y. Sulochana eep-ii – 1983 models of technology generation & diffusion: a review

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Anil K. Gupta/Y. Sulochana

EEP-II – 1983


Ever since the mankind discovered tools and techniques of exploiting the existing resources or discovering newer elements in environment which could become resource for future survival, the role of technology generation and diffusion has remained pivotal in growth of various societies or communities. The very fact that change in the way of doing things through improvement of a technique or a combination of techniques together with the social process of using those techniques and the related resources (i.e. technology) can bestow extra advantage upon those who have access to new methods implies that technological change is a political – economic process. To meet the essential conditions which determine the transition from one method of using either same resources or a combination of old and new resources to another method will require simultaneous changes in the access of various classes of people to institution providing new or old inputs. Since this access does not change equitously, technology is not considered here to be neutral. However, because of the way different models of technology generation and diffusion have evolved, this issue has remained controversial. Various models reviewed here have been presented with a purpose of providing an overview of discussion on this issue. It should be mentioned here that relative merits and demirits of various models have not been necessarily discussed in each case.

Another issue which needs clarification here is that different technological combinations will have varying effect on factor proportions. Primarily, a technology could be labour saving or land saving as defined below:
Land-saving: “the constraints imposed on agr. Development by an inelastic supply of land may be offset by advances in biological technology”
Labour-saving: “The constraints imposed by an inelastic supply of labour may be offset by advances in mechanical technology” (Hayami & Rutton, 1971).
Various models of technology generation and diffusion:
Generation of technological change may be either exogenous, e.g.: tractors, tubewells or modern varieties of seed (HYV) or endogenous, i.e. adjustment to factor proportions and changing prices or opportunity costs in non-market sectors.
Transfer or diffusion of technology may be through informal process or a formal process.
Informal Process:
Indigenous process of occurrence of innovation within a specific environment resulting from the interaction of farmer-experimentation and purposive selection together with natural selection.
Another source of innovation in the transfer of technology arises from human migration.
Formal R & D System: It covers a vide range or specialised disciplinary and technical problem solving institutions, e.g. institutional crop improvement programme, IRRI, CIMMYT, etc.
Model 1: Developed by Rogers and Shoemaker: Elements in the diffusion of new ideas are (1) the innovation (2) communication through certain channels (3) diffusion amongst the members of a social system over time.
S-M-C-R-E communication model




Inventors Scientists Change agents or opinion leaders

Innovation perceived attributes such as relative advantage, compatability etc.

Communication Channels (Mass media or inter-personal)

Members of social system

Consequences over time


Attitude change

Behaviour change

(Adoption or rejection)

Four functions in the process are (1) knowledge, (2) persuasion, (3) decision, and (4) confirmation.

(Fig. 1 for decision process (Rogers & Shoemaker)
The rate of diffusion of depends on number of farmers using an innovation and it may be higher for more profitable innovation for those requiring relatively small investments; when it does not replaces very durable equipment.
Stages in the adoption of process (Rogers, 1962) five stages:
Awareness, 2. Interest, 3. Evaluation, 4. Trial, and 5. Adoption
Fig.2 (Rogers) – (Adoption of an innovation by an individual)
Primary function of the awareness stage is to initiate the sequences of later stages which lead to adoption or rejection. He suggested that awareness of a new idea created a need for the innovation which was criticised by Hassinger who argued that a need preceded awareness of an innovation.
Interest stage: At this stage, individuals become interested and seek additional information. The functions of the interest stage is to increase the adopter’s information about the innovation. This stage has been referred to as the information stage by Beal (1957), knowledge stage [Havidge & Steiser (1961)], and as interest information stage (North Central Rural Sociology Sub Committee 1961).

Evaluation stage: Mental trial occurs at this stage – if the individual feels the advantages of the innovation out weigh the disadvantages, he will decide to try the innovation. Other researches have termed it as stage of Application (Beal and other 1957) Acceptance (Copp & other 1958).

Trial stage: The main function of the trial stage is to demonstrate the new ideas to farmer’s own situation and determine its usefulness for its complete adoption; while rejection of the innovation may occur at any stage in the adoption process. In any event, the results of trial are very important in the adoption-rejection decision.

Adoption stage: Where individual decides to continue the full use of the innovation.


An alternative model developed by Zaltman & Duncan (1977) which partially avoids the chi limitations of other existing models.

The stages given are
Perception: The major goal of this stage is to create or stimulate perception of a problem and solution and to shape the perceptions in a desirable way. There is no clear evidence indicating whether the outcome of a decision is influenced by a need prior to the awareness of an innovation or afterwards. A felt need or the realization that a given innovation is relevant to a felt need may develop only after considerable familiarity with the innovation is achieved Zaltman – Pinson (1974). But it is likely that perceptions of an innovation by the individual adopter changes as he moves through different stage of adoption (Zaltman & Duncan, 1977) the factors affecting the individual at this stage are the selective processes, both selective perceptions and selective retention. These process may originate as a result of the cultural, social or communicative climate (Rogere & Shomaker, 1971).

Motivation: The function of this stage is to encourage the potential adopter to be concerned about solving a problem. This is a step to overcome natural resistances to change; behaviours that are habitual are normally resistant to change, as they are successful attempts at solving a given problem (primacy).

Attitude: The individual develops beliefs about the innovation based on information he developed in social interactions which may be classified as peripheral beliefs. The most important resistant at this stage is the individuals illusion of his own importance effect felt by individual and consequently reduces the behaviour of change. Such an outcome at this stage might cause the process to remain incomplete.

Legitimization: This stage occurs when the individual seeks reinforcement for an action being considered. This may be determined by personal observation of performance of the behaviour by others or social interaction. The resistance process here is most likely the dependence.

Trial: Individual tests the innovation prior to complete acceptance.
The nature of innovation or the situation may resist the personal testing and individual try it through vicarious experience for the results similar to others; the individual who lacks self confidence in his ability may fail to get results (Pareek & Singh, 1972).
Evaluation: The individual will review the advantages and disadvantages of continued use of new ideas. Symbolic adoption (target person would accept a change) is very important at this stage.
The Homogeneity Model: (Dewalt & Dewalt 1980)
Based on data on adoption of al variety of technologies in different agril. Systems, several studies have attempted to formulate a general theory of the effect of social status on farmers’ propensity to undertake the risks of innovation. This research shows that sometimes a given upper-middle ranking status group is less innovation than a lower status group (Cancian, 1972); or conversely, that innovativeness increases linearly from low to high status groups (Rogers 1971, Gatroll et. Al.; 1973, Pelto 1973, Morrison et. Al. 1976, Gatrell 1977).
On the basis of these and similar social scientific studies, it is possible to illustrate a model of the relationship between economic position and adoption of new cultural items as shown in figure.
Homeogenity model


The single dot indicates that peasants are homogeneously poor and they are unwilling to change.
The Linear Model: While supports Rogers (1971) & Pelto (1973) that within any community the wealthier individuals are likely to be the first adopters. Supporting the popular saying “The rich gets richer and the poor gets poor”.


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Cancion Model (1967)
The most important feature of Cancion model is that “lower middle rank” is more willing to take risks than the upper middle rank because of greater desire of this economic group for upward mobility and on the other hand the upper-middle rank is unwilling to take risk so that their relatively favourable socio-economic position by investing in new opportunities that may fail may not change.
The modified middle-class conservation model:
“During the early stages of the introduction of an agricultural innovation to a given community, when local experience with the innovation is limited or non-existent, and, therefore, uncertainty is high, lower middle-class farmers are expected to adopt it more readily than upper middle-class farmerls because they have less to lose should the innovation fail. As time passes, and farmers gain experience with the new crop or cultivation method, however, the rate of adoption among upper middle-class farmers should increase and even surpass that of lower middle-class farmers whose resources are more limited.
Evidence from a number of empirical studies is said to be consistent with those predictions, although Cancian does not discuss how sensitive the results of these studies are to the authors’ choices of reference groups within which to measure individuals relative status”.
“In effect, what Cancian is doing is to use rank as a proxy for preferences, and time elapsed after the introduction of an innovation as a proxy for farmers’ estimating procedures. As farmers gain experience with the innovation, they estimate a lower probability of loss due to ignorance about proper use of the new technique under local conditions, and, therefore, attach a higher expected value to the innovation. However, one might argue with equal plausibility that upper middle-class farmers are relatively slow to adopt innovations not because they are afraid of losing rank, but because they can afford to wait for more information (and hence lower costs), whereas lower income farmers may be so pressed to try to earn extra income (to meet household consumption needs, and avoid debt) that they must try anything that comes along. In other words, because they are somewhat better endowed with resources to meet current needs, upper middle-class farmers are able to shift the risks of initial experimentation into their poorer neighbours. Cancian’s results could be interpreted as evidence of profit-maximizing (rather than uncertainty-averting) responses to a situation in which imperfections in factor markets have given rise to differential access to resources, which in turn means that the cost of innovation is different for farmers in different income or landholding classes” (Berry, 1980).
“The variability of the patterning of these data suggests that (a) there may be some validity to hypotheses about middle-class or upper middle-class conservation; and (b) the relationship between economic position and adoption of new technology is not one which can be adequately understood on the basis of measurements of these two variables alone; more contextual information needs to be provided to make the models understandable. In other words, we need to be able to identify more clearly the parameters or the types of situations in which one or the other of the models will apply. For example, in early stages of the adoption of an expensive crop where people are used to practicing subsistence cultivation, Cancian’s Stage model may apply. Some of the other information that needs to be provided has been suggested in the examples considered earlier. These include (a) the subsistence base and minimal subsistence standard of living; (b) the amount of investment required; (c) the availability of credit; (d) the possible “exchange value” benefits of the new crop; (e) other non-agricultural job prospects; and (f) the amount of risk involved in adopting the new techniques. In other situations, many other variables may become important. The ultimate message is that our models have to become more complex if we are to begin to understand processes of agricultural decision making” (also see B. DeWalt 1979:248-260 Dewalt & Dewalt, 1980).
Model 2: Induced Innovation Model (Hayami & Ruthon (1971)
Induced innovation model includes the public sector investment in agril. Research, in the adaption and diffusion of agril. Technology and in the institutional infrastructure that is supportive of agril. Prod. By factors of relatively inelastic supply.
Institutional Innovation:
Changes in relative prices in any sector of the economy act to induce innovative activity, not only by private producers but also by scientists in public institutions in order to reduce the constraints imposed the relatively scare factors of production.
Institutions that develops technology or mode of production can also be induced to change in order to enable fuller advantage of new tech. To both the individuals of society. My hypothesized that farmers are induced by :shifts in relative prices”, to search for technical alternatives which save the increasingly scare factors of production. Public research institutions develop new technology and also demands for modern technical inputs which substitute for the more scarce factors. Scientists and science administrators respond by making available new technical possibilities and new inputs that enable farmers to profitably substitute the increasingly abundant factors for increasingly scarce factors” i.e. scientists and public search programmes respond to problems of rural sector, which reflected in the input scarcities with which individual farmers must deal.
Richard Grabowski (1979) criticised this model and added “the situation mentioned above would be a highly unrealistic version of situation that exists in agril. Sector of LSD, where large land owners are likely to be able to purchase capital or externally available inputs at prices which are lower than those that small land-owners or …… farmers would have to pay. This was supported by studies of Keith Griffin Barbana Tuckman. This implies that dualism exists in agril. Sector; and for small farmers.

Political – Economy – Model 3

Economic, Social and Political View

Economic development plays a major role in rapid expansion and improvement of production forces of a nation in which diffusion of technological innovation plays a major role. Since agricultural techniques form part of techno-cultural complexes, the processes of technological changes in agriculture are not neutral with respect to social relations, but carry the inprint of the economy and society within which they were conceived. Prevailing social relations are the starting point for the explanation of the nature, orientation and intensity of technological change. Unlike economics, political economy studies the material aspects of production together with the social relationships of production. People engaged in production define relationships of not only among themselves but they also define their relationship to nature termed as ecological relations of productions. Thus the character of production is determined by the nature of eco-political economy.

Social relations of production determine which productive forces are developed and diffused and which shall remain undeveloped. The character of productive forces in turn affects the evolution and reproduction of social relations of production. The direct links that exists between social and ecological relations of production are important as they also have not received the attention they deserve in the theory of economic development.
Model of Eco-political Economy

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