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Keywords:

  • bandwagons;
  • mimetic adoption;
  • institutional theory;
  • inference;
  • information cascades, vicarious learning

Abstract

We extend understanding of information-revealing bandwagons by considering a common condition under which adoption of a practice by small organizations, rather than large ones, has a disproportionate influence on future adoption propensities. We hypothesize that when the value of adoption increases with organizational size, smaller adopters have such disproportionate influence because they allow observers better to infer that adoption will be profitable for their own organization. We elaborate the theory by predicting that alternative information sources moderate the influence of smaller adopters. Empirically, we test our theory with longitudinal data on the adoption of the ISO 9000 quality management standard. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.