E-Learning Adoption in Organizations 6: More Characteristics of Adopters

In this, the penultimate article in this series, I will describe some more characteristics of adopters, before concluding the series of articles about Elearning Adoption in Organizations. As discussed last time, there are there are five categories of adopters of new ideas:

  1. Innovators
  2. Early Adopters
  3. Early Majority
  4. Majority
  5. Nonadopters

I covered the first category, Innovators, previously.

Early Adopters

The second category of adopters are Early Adopters. As a cohort, they are typically younger than the majority of adopters (but are not necessarily younger than Innovators). They are also better-educated that people or organizations that adopt at a slower rate, or do not adopt at all.  They tend to participate more in the community of users, including professional bodies, communities of practise, and informal shared-interest groups. According to Bohlen and Beal (1957)

there is considerable evidence that this group furnishes a disproportionate amount of the formal leadership in organizations.


Early Majority

The third category of adopters is called the Early Majority. Table 1 (below) illustrates that the rate of diffusion increases rapidly one (and after) this cohort begins to accept the innovation.

Table 1 Rate of Adoption over Time (after Bohlen and Beal, 1957)

Table 1 Rate of Adoption over Time (after Bohlen and Beal, 1957)

The early majority are slightly above average in age, education and professional experience. They tend to participate in the community of users through organizations like the ATD and the eLearning Guild, as well as by reading blogs, wikis and forums occasionally. They have  medium-high social and economic status. While less active in peer-related activities than early adopters, they participate more than the majority of adopters.

In many cases, the early majority aren’t formal leaders in organizations, but they are active in influencing the leadership to promote new ideas and technologies in organizations. It can be said then, that the early majority are likely to be informal leaders – in a sense they are a “weather vane” that indicates to the majority which way “the wind is blowing.”

People in this category are typically more conservative than Innovators or Early Adopters: “they must be sure an idea will work before they adopt it” (p.6). Because this category of people have fewer resources than the previous two, they “cannot afford to make poor decisions.” The people tend to associate with their own group within organizations. They value highly the opinions of their peers, as this is the primary source of their status and prestige.



Bohlen, J. M., Beal, G. M. (1957) The Diffusion Process, Special Report No. 18 (Agriculture Extension Service, Iowa State College) 1: 56-77. [Internet] Available from: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/17351/1/ar560111.pdf  [Accessed 3rd February 2018]