Differential perception of innovation with particular reference to the organisational context
Differential perception of innovation is a research area which has been advocated as a suitable topic for study in recent years. It developed from the problems encountered within earlier perception of innovation studies which sought to establish what characteristics of an innovation affected the ease of its adoption. While some success was achieved In relating perception of innovation to adoption behaviour, variability encountered Within groups expected - to fercelve innovation similarly suggested that the needs and experiences of the potential adopter were significantly affecting the research findings. Such analysis being supported by both sociological and psychological perceptual research. The present study sought to identify the presence of differential perception of innovation and explore the nature of the process. It was decided to base the research in an organisational context and to concentrate upon manufacturing innovation. It has been recognised that such adoption of technological innovation is commonly the product of a collective decision-making process, involving individuals from a variety of occupational backgrounds, both in terms of occupational speciality and level within the hierarchy. Such roles appeared likely to significantly influence perception of technological innovation, as gathered through an appropriate measure and were readily identifiable. Data vas collected by means of a face-to-face card presentation technique, a questionnaire and through case study material. Differential perception of innovation effects were apparent In the results, many similarities and differences of perception being related to the needs and experiences of the individuals studied. Phenomenological analysis, which recognises the total nature of experience in infiuencing behaviour, offered the best means of explaining the findings. It was also clear that the bureaucratic model of role definition was not applicable to the area studied, it seeming likely that such definitions are weaker under conditions of uncertainty, such as encountered in innovative decision-making.