Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Diffusion of a Twentieth-Century Innovation

Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Diffusion of a Twentieth-Century Innovation

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

One piece of fascinating new information that we had not previously been aware of prior to reading Meeks (2016) is that according to a study by Ghazinoory, Abdi, and Azadegan-Mehr (2011), of the 530 publications covering SWOT since 1982, only 7% (37 publications) were in business management or closely related fields. The rest-in fact the vast majority-of the SWOToriented papers was found in wide-ranging fields such as agriculture, health and healthcare, marketing, and tourism. Meeks (2016) interprets this finding negatively: "for a tool developed by business policy strategists as a cornerstone of strategic analysis, scholars central to strategic theory and the development of practitioner tools fail to see it as such."

We disagree with Meeks' (2016) pessimistic interpretation. Instead, we view this finding as wonderful evidence of the successful diffusion of an innovation originated from the business policy and strategic management field to the other disciplines. The diffusion-of-innovation literature asserts three points: (1) Innovation is "an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual" (Rogers, 1983: 11). (2) Innovation takes time to diffuse from one domain to other areas (Bass, 2004). (3) Innovation adoption decisions can be classified into three groups: (a) "optional" (made by individuals), (b) "collective" (made by consensus by a group), and (c) "authority" (made by higher authorities) (Rogers, 1983: 29). It is possible that some innovations may be selected by some higher authorities. However, this is not likely in the case of academic research (Peng, 2001). In the intellectual marketplace, the adoption of a framework always represents an "optional" or "collective" decision made when researchers craft their individual or joint work. Therefore, we suggest that given its widespread diffusion beyond the strategy field, SWOT must have given its adopters-authors of the 530 publications surveyed by Ghazinoory et al. (2011)-the right theoretical tool via which to accomplish their research goals.

The diffusion-of-innovation literature also suggests that at some point, all innovations will lose their novelty (Rogers, 1983). It is not surprising that in the home discipline of SWOT analysis, SWOT is no longer viewed as novel subjects worthy of significant attention (Meeks, 2016). However, even if innovations depreciate with time, they become part of the knowledge base. …

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