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Diffusion of changes in organizations

Taesung Kim (Department of Workforce Education and Development, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, United States.)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to address the advisability of innovation diffusion theory for enhancing the adoption/execution success rate in leading organizational change.


The study design involved an interpretive discussion of innovation diffusion theory and related research, followed by a review of influential models of organizational change management (CM). Through analysis and synthesis of the essential ideas and processes derived from both schools, this study conceptualized an integrated change diffusion model with practical and research implications.


The study findings were presented via an organizational change diffusion model and its phases with major considerations. Leading change should be a systematic but responsive process as visualized by a sequential but recursive flow of the phases; change could sustain with the spontaneous function of organizational dynamics; before-during-after diagnosis and evaluation would be fundamental to the success of change efforts.

Research limitations/implications

This study recommended that future research empirically test the validity of this study’s conceptual arguments and attempt to further integrate innovation diffusion and CM research in many areas, including the change leader’s competencies. Extended research opportunities were presented as well.

Practical implications

This study suggested that change leaders concentrate resources on a few positively or negatively influential individuals and take advantage of communication networks to persuade and inform others to help with their change adoption. Change leaders were also advised to partner with formal/informal opinion leaders and facilitate each player’s proper role in the change diffusion efforts. An additional suggestion was that system-centric thinking should precede the individual-blame orientation in the root cause analysis of adoption/non-adoption (diffusion/non-diffusion) of a change.


This study offers value by enriching CM approaches in consultation with the research asset on innovation diffusion, which has been less capitalized upon in the organizational CM arena. Specifically, value added includes an encompassing consideration of both normative-reeducative and empirical-rational perspectives on individuals’ behavior change, a research-based conceptual extension of CM models, and consummative strategies for effective and efficient change interventions.



Kim, T. (2015), "Diffusion of changes in organizations", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 134-152.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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