Diffusion of selected concepts in information systems and management: 1973‐2004

Keith Harman (Prescott Valley, Arizona, USA)
Alex Koohang (University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Publication date: 1 June 2006



The purpose of the study is to explore the extent to which the diffusion of concepts related to information systems and management approximates the rate and the cumulative frequency distribution patterns assumed to reflect the diffusion of innovations.


The diffusion of those concepts was measured via citation analysis of 4,014 publications (journal articles, books, and dissertations) for the period 1973‐2004.


Two key findings emerged from the study. First, the cumulative frequency distribution approximates the S‐curve of adoption. Second, the rate of adoption is exponential and corroborates an epidemiological model of the rate of adoption recently reported in the literature.

Research limitations/implications

Further research is needed to identify and examine topics or concepts that have run their course and subsequently offer an excellent opportunity to perform ex‐post‐facto studies on the life cycle of innovative concepts or topics. From these studies will be baseline data and easily identifiable “actors” in the diffusion process (authors, editors, reviewers, and dissertation committees) that will provide the impetus for continued, progressively complex research models.

Practical implications

The practical implications of a deeper understanding of the diffusion of innovations are immense. It will enhance understanding of how to better promote research and development and technology transfer. It will enhance understanding of how better to market the fruits of those endeavors.


This paper's findings bring to the scholarly community in the digital era the importance of understanding how new concepts and theories are brought to light and evaluated.



Harman, K. and Koohang, A. (2006), "Diffusion of selected concepts in information systems and management: 1973‐2004", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 106 No. 5, pp. 663-679. https://doi.org/10.1108/02635570610666430

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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