Cellular automata modeling of resistance to innovations: Effects and solutions

Sarit Moldovan, Jacob Goldenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has long been accepted that word-of-mouth (w-o-m) communications play a key role in new product adoption and much interest has been directed to the positive impact of interpersonal communications on new product dissemination and adoption. Limited attention, however, has been given to the adverse effect of negative w-o-m and consumers' resistance to change, primarily since these negative forces are less visible, leaving no traces in sales data. In this paper, we explore how resistance may shrink market size. In light of the covert nature of negative w-o-m, we use cellular automata modeling to simulate and gain insights into possible resistance scenarios and their implications. We found that, once resistance is enrolled, advertising provides no more than a limited compensating effect, and positive opinion leaders have only low impact on market growth. In a second study, we explore an approach that undermines the effect of resistance leaders through the direct activation of positive opinion leaders prior to the initiation of unfocused marketing efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-442
Number of pages18
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the Israeli Science Foundation, the K-mart International Center of Marketing and Retailing, the Hebrew University, and the Davidson Center.


  • Cellular automata
  • Innovation
  • Opinion leaders
  • Resistance
  • Word-of-mouth


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