The role of publicly-reported research in the early stages of the diffusion of an innovation: the case of E-commerce

Ho, Pei-Chun
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This study examined patterns of research-based information and predictions about e-commerce that have been disseminated during the first six years of the diffusion of this innovation. The theoretical expectation was based on Hoopla Effect theory, which suggests that early information and predictions about an innovation will be overly optimistic, produced mainly by inventors and businesses that have a stake in their success, and focused primarily on main effects of the innovation rather than indirect social impacts the innovation might have. All 1,134 research-based reports about e-commerce posted on the website were content analyzed in this study. Findings showed the tone of information did tend to become significantly less positive over the five-year period. While studies about social impacts of the innovation did increase over time, there were many more studies about financial and business aspects across all time periods. The source of most of the reports was research firms, which was contrary to the expectation that it would be primarily businesses themselves. This suggests that research firms may now be playing a major role in presenting information used by investors or businesses to make decisions about e-commerce. The extent to which such research firms are acting as agents of businesses promoting these innovations could not be determined by this study. The study supports supply-side diffusion theorists who suggest that the quantity and source of innovation information is likely to vary widely over time.

Journalism and mass communication