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Re-engineer cultural “DNA” of an innovation in the process of adoption and diffusion: In the lens of adopters of an eco-innovation in Honghe UNESCO World Heritage Site in Yunnan China

Re-engineer cultural “DNA” of an innovation in the process of adoption and diffusion: In the lens of adopters of an eco-innovation in Honghe UNESCO World Heritage Site in Yunnan China

Chan, Jin ORCID: 0000-0002-6275-9763, Zhang, Ying, Coles, Anne-Marie and Qi, Xiaoguang (2016) Re-engineer cultural “DNA” of an innovation in the process of adoption and diffusion: In the lens of adopters of an eco-innovation in Honghe UNESCO World Heritage Site in Yunnan China. In: Small steps towards sustainability Workshop 2016, 20 June 2016, University of Greenwich, London. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This presentation will report on a project, which investigated a research gap in the theory of technology diffusion regarding the influence of socio-cultural and religious factors in adoption processes.

The project was concerned with identifying local factors influencing the uptake of solar water heating systems in the Yuanyang Hani Rice Terrace community, an ethnic minority from Yunnan, China. The rice terraces are located in a remote, mountainous part of South Western China where the tourism industry has been rapidly developing following its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site in June 2013. For this community, the solar water heating system can be considered as a culturally foreign product, an eco-innovation designed and manufactured in China but carrying supposedly foreign concepts (primarily European-American origin such as sustainable development and climate change). Fieldwork data was collected through semi-structural interviews and observations. In addition, photographs were taken as well as observations and unrecorded discussions in order to provide a better understanding of the site and dynamics in the community.

In this process of innovation adoption and diffusion, the convention agents such as government officers, opinion leaders and commercial entities do play a key role. Other than providing financial incentives government, the role to promote and systematically encourage adoption was instrumental in the acceptance of new technology. The role of opinion leaders, nonetheless, is to provide legitimacy to the use of the technology through new interpretation of or connection with the traditional culture and religious values. But we have also observed significant contribution of a key agent i.e. the returning residents who worked as migrant workers in the city. They are the carriers of new technology but also the agents of cultural change.

We conclude that the cultural “DNA” of an innovation inherited from its creator would be re-engineered, in the sense of re-interpreted and adapted, in the process of adoption by a community. The modified cultural “DNA” could reflect partly the cultural and religious features of both the source and the host.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Speech)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Innovation, adoption, domestication, China
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Department of Systems Management & Strategy
Faculty of Business > Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre (GPERC)
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2017 12:42
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/15598

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