Using the Morphogenetic Model to Examine Broadband AdoptionA Critical Realist Argument

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


European Academy of Management


Faculty of Business and Law


School of Management / Centre for Innovative Practice




Jackson, P. D., Dobson, P. J., & Gengatharen, D. E. (2011). Using the morphogenetic model to examine broadband adoption: a critical realist argument. Paper presented at the European Academy of Management (EURAM) Conference. Tallin, Estonia.


In this paper we use Archer’s morphogenetic model (Archer, 1995) to help explain community attitudes and expectations of adoption of broadband in rural communities in Australia. Broadband infrastructure is currently being implemented throughout Australia as part of a government backed National Broadband Network (NBN). Attitudes to this “nation building project” are deeply divided along political, ideological and demographic lines: some see it as transformational, others as a white elephant. Some anticipate great benefits, others would not bother to subscribe. Given this situation and the ambivalent results in other countries with similar programs, we propose to use critical realism as a foundational method for identifying the causal structures, both physical and socially constructed, which influence decisions and attitudes. This paper focuses mainly on reasons why critical realism is an appropriate approach and then presents some preliminary analysis of early data in the form of vignettes to show how Archer’s morphogenetic model provides a theoretical base for explaining the existence and emergence of these attitudes.

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