There has been substantial research in the diffusion of innovation as applied to information systems. For nearly twenty years, this research has relied mostly on IS-process models and IS-factor models. IS-process models consider the typical stages of incorporation of information technologies (IT) into the organization (Gibson and Nolan, 1974; McKenney and McFarlan, 1982). IS-factor models examine the various technological, organizational, and external environmental characteristics that relate to IS-diffusion within an enterprise. Kwon & Zmud (1987) and Fichman (1992) provide extensive reviews of earlier factors research, and outline several factor areas that need further exploration. Current literature includes a third modelthe consequencemodel for IT diffusion. In this model, the extent of IT diffusion serves as an intervening variable, with organizational consequences serving as the dependent variable (Ferns & Palley, 1995). The literature on IT diffusion provides little information about IT diffusion innonbusiness sectors. There have been some IT diffusion studies that include public administration areas (Bretschneider & Wittmer, 1993), education (Trachtman, Spirek, Sparks & Stohl, 1991) and healthcare systems (Palley, 1991). Nonetheless, there has beenlittle investigation of IT diffusion on other nonprofit sectors. This research addresses problems in applying existing theory on IT diffusion to the Human Services sector, and in Direct Service Providers (DSPs), as defined below, in particular. One, thereare few studies in the literature that even describe the extent of IT diffusion in DSPs. Second, most factorsmodel studies operationalize the factor constructs in the context of business organizations. The metrics used in these studies may not be appropriate for DSPs. Finally, studies of the consequences of IT diffusion are rare, and this is particularly true of IT diffusion in DSPs. The lack of data on these consequences creates a vacuum in which potential innovators may have only subjective information on which to base implementation decisions. In such cases, potential innovators may either inappropriately implement or resist IT innovations. This research considers DSPs in terms of standing ITdiffusion research, and indicates probable reasons that have contributed to low levels of diffusion. We examine DSP structural characteristics, contrast the information needs of this sector to business sectors, and project what IT diffusion theory indicates within this industry. This research also will weigh the opportunity costs associated with the lack of IT/DSP diffusion research and will suggest significant areas where more knowledge of IT diffusion would have the greatest potential utility
Ferns, William J. and Palley, Michael A., "Information Technology, Diffusion, and the Human Services Industry" (1995). AMCIS 1995 Proceedings. 103.