, Volume 102, Issue 2, pp 1615–1645 | Cite as

Large-scale bibliometric review of diffusion research



Despite the fact that diffusion research has existed for more than a century, a quantitative review covering this subject in a broad and general context is still lacking. This article reviews diffusion research by providing an extensive bibliometric and clustering analysis. In total, we identified thirteen clusters comprising 6,811 publications over the period of 2002–2011, and thereby describe the characteristics of diffusion research in an extensive and general way based on quantitative bibliometric methods. The analysis reveals that diffusion research is highly interdisciplinary in character, involving several disciplines from ethnology to economics, with many overlapping research trails. The concluding section indicates that diffusion research seems to be data driven and relies heavily on solely empirical studies. Consequently, influential publications rely on empirical data that support and change theories in modest ways only. In this contribution, we propose a review method that produces a fairly good overview of the research area and which can be applied to any knowledge field to replace or complement the traditional literature review.


Adoption Cluster Publication analysis Quantitative Technology transfer 

Mathematics Subject Classification


JEL Classification

O30 O33 



We are grateful to the participants of the INDEK Working Paper Seminar in Stockholm, 2013. In particular, the opponents—Anders Broström and Pernilla Ulfvengren—along with the editors—Kristina Nyström and Charlotte Holgersson—offered useful and constructive comments on an earlier version. We also thank Staffan Jacobsson for his insightful recommendations and Qi Wang for her review on the methodology part. Staffan Laestadius has provided advice throughout the entire study. Additionally, we thank David House for language review on an earlier version. Lastly, we thank anonymous reviewers whose valuable comments significantly improve the quality of our paper.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Industrial Economics and ManagementKTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  2. 2.School of BusinessOrebro UniversityOrebroSweden

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