IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Innovation in academe: the diffusion of information technologies


  • Sharon G. Levin
  • Paula E. Stephan
  • Anne E. Winkler


This study investigates the diffusion of two early Information technologies across 1348 institutions of higher education: (1) the adoption of Because It's Time Network (BITNET), a precursor to the Internet as we know it today and (2) the adoption of the Domain Name System (DNS) with its registration of domain names, an essential feature of the modern Internet. We find that the time paths of adoption for both generally exhibit the typical S shape found for other innovations. We identify factors likely responsible for the patterns observed and in the process extend the scope of the diffusion literature by incorporating insights from the optimization behaviour of nonprofits. Using a proportional hazards framework, we find that faster adoption occurred among institutions focused on research and doctoral education as well as among select liberal arts colleges relative to nonselect colleges. Faster adoption also occurred for larger institutions, suggesting that they benefited from economies of scale. Adoption was slower for institutions having a larger percent of female faculty members. Also, there is some evidence to suggest that public institutions were faster to innovate than private institutions, while institutions in the South tended to innovate more slowly than institutions located in other regions of the country.

Suggested Citation

  • Sharon G. Levin & Paula E. Stephan & Anne E. Winkler, 2012. "Innovation in academe: the diffusion of information technologies," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(14), pages 1765-1782, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:44:y:2012:i:14:p:1765-1782
    DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2011.554375

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Trajtenberg, M., 1995. "General purpose technologies 'Engines of growth'?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 83-108, January.
    2. Stephen D. Oliner & Daniel E. Sichel, 2000. "The Resurgence of Growth in the Late 1990s: Is Information Technology the Story?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 3-22, Fall.
    3. Robert J. Gordon, 2000. "Does the "New Economy" Measure Up to the Great Inventions of the Past?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 49-74, Fall.
    4. Paul Schreyer, 2000. "The Contribution of Information and Communication Technology to Output Growth: A Study of the G7 Countries," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2000/2, OECD Publishing.
    5. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald & Nicholas Oulton & Sylaja Srinivasan, 2003. "The case of the missing productivity growth: or, does information technology explain why productivity accelerated in the United States but not the United Kingdom?," Working Paper Series WP-03-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    6. James Odeck, 2007. "Measuring technical efficiency and productivity growth: a comparison of SFA and DEA on Norwegian grain production data," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(20), pages 2617-2630.
    7. L. Becchetti & David Bedoya & L. Paganetto, 2003. "ICT Investment, Productivity and Efficiency: Evidence at Firm Level Using a Stochastic Frontier Approach," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 143-167, September.
    8. Mercedes Gumbau Albert, 1998. "Regional technical efficiency: a stochastic frontier approach," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(11), pages 723-726.
    9. Engelbrecht, Hans-Jurgen & Xayavong, Vilaphonh, 2006. "ICT intensity and New Zealand's productivity malaise: Is the glass half empty or half full?," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 24-42, March.
    10. G. Atzeni & OA Carboni, 2001. "The economic effects of information technology: firm level evidence from the italian case," Working Paper CRENoS 200114, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    11. Kraemer, Kenneth L. & Dedrick, Jason, 1994. "Payoffs from investment in information technology: Lessons from the Asia-Pacific region," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(12), pages 1921-1931, December.
    12. Philip Arestis & Georgios Chortareas & Evangelia Desli, 2006. "Technical Efficiency and Financial Deepening in the non-OECD Economies," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(3), pages 353-373.
    13. Schmidt, Peter & Sickles, Robin C, 1984. "Production Frontiers and Panel Data," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 2(4), pages 367-374, October.
    14. G. Medda & C. Piga, 2004. "R&S e spillover industriali: un'analisi sulle imprese italiane," Working Paper CRENoS 200406, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    15. Matteo Bugamelli & Patrizio Pagano, 2004. "Barriers to investment in ICT," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(20), pages 2275-2286.
    16. Stiroh, K.J., 2000. "Investment and Productivity Growth - A Survey from the Neoclassical and New Growth Perspectives," Papers 24, Gouvernement du Canada - Industry Canada;Gouvernement du Canada - Industry Canada.
    17. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin Hitt, 1996. "Paradox Lost? Firm-Level Evidence on the Returns to Information Systems Spending," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(4), pages 541-558, April.
    18. Battese, G E & Coelli, T J, 1995. "A Model for Technical Inefficiency Effects in a Stochastic Frontier Production Function for Panel Data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 325-332.
    19. Dirk Pilat, 2005. "The ICT Productivity Paradox: Insights from Micro Data," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2004(1), pages 37-65.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:ner:leuven:urn:hdl:123456789/327130 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Winkler, Anne E. & Glänzel, Wolfgang & Levin, Sharon & Stephan, Paula, 2011. "The Diffusion of Information Technology and the Increased Propensity of Teams to Transcend Institutional and National Borders," IZA Discussion Papers 5857, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Dutta, Amitava & Puvvala, Abhinay & Roy, Rahul & Seetharaman, Priya, 2017. "Technology diffusion: Shift happens — The case of iOS and Android handsets," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 28-43.
    4. Anne E Winkler & Sharon G Levin & Paula E Stephan & Wolfgang Gl&aauml;nzel, 2014. "Publishing Trends in Economics across Colleges and Universities, 1991–2007," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 560-582, September.
    5. Waverly W. Ding & Sharon G. Levin & Paula E. Stephan & Anne E. Winkler, 2009. "The Impact of Information Technology on Scientists' Productivity, Quality and Collaboration Patterns," NBER Working Papers 15285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:applec:44:y:2012:i:14:p:1765-1782. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.