Nonlinear Models for the Adoption and Diffusion of Innovations for Industrial Energy Conservation

Jacobsen, J., & Guastello, S. (2007). Nonlinear models for the adoption and diffusion of innovations for industrial energy conservation. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, 11(4), 499-520.

Four different theoretical models for explaining the diffusion of innovation were compared for 13 energy-related innovations—the Theory of Planned Behavior, the S-curve for Diffusion of Innovations, the power law distribution, and the cusp catastrophe. The substantive concern was to explore the roles of facilitative and obstructive factors in diffusing industrial and commercial innovations. Participants were 102 industrial plant and facilities managers from sites that were among the top users of electrical energy and natural gas in the United States. They completed a survey that contained measurements of positive attitudes toward innovation, organizational resistance to innovation, and the extent to which they had investigated or adopted each of the target innovations. Seven of the 13 innovations exhibited strong cusp catastrophe models (via nonlinear regression, average R² = .91) compared to linear alternative models (average R² = .31) for those innovations; the S-curve for diffusion was regarded as a simplified version of the cusp. One innovation was characterized best by a power law distribution (R² = .94), and the remaining five were characterized best by a linear model that was based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (R² = .41). Different underlying dynamics for the various innovations were implied by these results.

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