Technology Adoption and Adaptation


The need, necessities and desires of man has led to the invention of technologies, which have made life simple, easy and accessible. For examples, evolution of compact mobile phones, world wide web (www), airlines, household water purifier etc. While advances/improvements in technology continue with rapid phase, but the usage of these is far lower than the expectations (Ndubisi, 2005; Ndubisi, Gupta and Massoud, 2003). The technology improvements have occurred through technology development and technology adaptation as shown in the figure 1.
Technology cycle
It is evident from the fig. 1 that there has been technological development from the consumer’s point of view. These technological developments are-the new design of new machinery, equipment production processes, materials and methods of organizing production etc.With the development of technology, the consumers need to adopt and adapt those developed technology for specific needs. This is can be achieved by various marketing strategies with keeping the local tastes and preferences. This is known as technology adaptation.

To better understand the adoption and adaptation of any technology for various common tasks, can be explained by figure 2. The structure presented in fig. 2 would be useful in understanding a community better in providing appropriate technology and identifying a strategy that is more likely to succeed and sustainable.
technology adpotion

The fig 2 illustration discusses the various stages (dotted vertical color line) involved in Technology Adoption and Adaptation approach. The various sub-activity which leads to adoption and adaptation of the technology are shown by arrow marks. The dotted lines (black) imply that, there are many other various factors determine adoption and adaptation approach. The fig 1and 2 is an informative one but not exhaustive. The structure also renders itself as a basis for further refinement and detailed research into each factor for determining people’s approach for each technology.

Technology adopt (Stage I-II) sometimes is not technical requirements but they are bound with cultural preferences. For example, methods of bloom smelting used by different people reveals aspects of the smelting technology that were determined by cultural preferences rather than technical requirements and, hence, reveal beliefs about technology that could be difficult to discover in other ways. These preferences/ beliefs may be expressed in choices between technical alternatives in the design of the bloomer process or in actions that have social rather than metallurgical consequences (Gordon and Killick, 1993).

Sometime technology adoptions and adaptations are seen due to the competitive pressure from entrepreneurs using alternative methods/techniques and free exchange of information among the elite society. In some circumstances, even if the technology is adopted but not adapted due to the lack of insufficient information about the technology, lack of availability of land and lack of any perceptible advantage over the traditional bush fallow rotation system as in the case of alley farming in West Africa (Adesina and Chianu 2002). If a technology is not market driven, nor there is clear separation between economics and cultural/belief then adaptation of technology will be difficult or impossible in some cases. For example, Bloomers in Africa didn’t adapt to the new technology as they were culture driven compared to North Atlantic nations who were market driven. The non consideration of socio-economic factors will led to inappropriate targeting of the technology into areas with lower likelihood of adoption.

The technology adoption to adaptation stage (II –III) needs constant political commitment, financing, technology transfer and innovation, monitoring progress etc. Overall it is important to understand the user’s decision on adoption process from initial adoption to technology adaptation. For example, alley farming technology was adopted at slow interest (due to various socio-economic reasons) and farmers experiment with different configuration of the technology to adapt (Versteeg and Koudokopon 1993). The adaptation of technology (Solar stills) can help to alleviate some of the socio-economical problems (after stage III). For example, availability of water in can have multiplier effects such wider social mobilization, empowerment of women etc (UN-Habitat, 2006).

Another important aspect is ‘emotional marketing’ of the products. The attractive products and positive market strategy (novel idea) would lead consumers an emotional bond (feel good or bad factor) with the product. For example, Herbal soaps with different fragrance, can depict the use by great Saints of its own country and various medical benefits by usage of it. This will help in increase of the products’ lifespan, because users would likely to use them for longer period of time and properly. Attractive products with high aesthetic qualities arouse attention, are easier to learn, produce more harmonious results and work better.

While the progress towards technology intensive development is a reality, the real task is to evolve and develop need based, locally appropriate and targeted solutions which are sustainable and replicable. The structure presented and discussed in this article would be useful in understanding the behavioral intent to adopt, adapt and refine (innovate) the technology to cater their local situations. This will ensure in providing appropriate technology and identifying strategy that is more likely to sustain. The structure also renders itself as a basis for further refinement and detailed research into each factor determining people’s technology-approach.

Quote of the article: Any technology tends to go through a 25-year adoption cycle – Marc Andreessen

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2 Responses to Technology Adoption and Adaptation

  1. vishnu says:

    This article is a good read. Infact when we look at innovations in technology, rather than technologists finding pain areas of end users of technology and coming up with a solution, it is the end user, bearing the brunt of lack of technology, who have either developed the technology himself or rather approached technologist to develop the solution. It is then technologists came up with the invention.

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