Elearning Adoption in Organizations 7: Characteristics of Adopters concluded

Previously, I looked at characteristics of adopters for

  • Innovators
  • Early Adopters
  • The Early Majority

In this last post in this series, I will describe the characteristics of the remaining categories of adopters, or otherwise, as we shall see.

The Majority

As a group, the Majority can be characterized as having less education and are older than the Early Majority. While they participate less in formal and non-formal groups with their peers, they probably form the largest cohort of the membership of such groups. They belong to fewer organizations than the early adopters. They access fewer blog, wikis, and other means of discovering information about new ideas and technologies. They do not participate in as many activities outside the organization than people who adopt earlier.


The final category include the nonadopters. This group has the least education and is the oldest. They participate the least in formal groups and other initiatives.


In my view, one of the phenomena that emerged form researching this topic was the power of informational social influence, or social proof:

[It] is a psychological phenomenon that occurs in ambiguous social situations when people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior. Making the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation, they will deem the behavior of others as appropriate or better informed.


We can say, based upon the evidence of Bohlen’s and Beal’s, and much subsequent research, that people often do and believe things because many other people do and believe the same things.

In this context, innovators – pioneers – are initially ignored by the majority during the initial, evangelizing stage of the promotion of new idea or technology, almost as if their preference for such an idea is idiosyncratic because of an innovator’s role. Only after early adopters (who are perceived by the community-at-large to be the “smart money”) take on a new idea, can  effective and sustained diffusion of an innovation begin to take place. This is case of “the pioneers get the arrows, the settlers get the land.”


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://www.soc.iastate.edu/extension/presentations/publications/comm/Diffusion%20Process.pdf [Accessed 3rd February 2018]

Wikipedia contributors, “Social Proof,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia [Internet] Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_proof (accessed November 10, 2008).