Improved cookstoves promise benefits for human health, deforestation, climate change mitigation and gender equality. For decades, various governmental and non-governmental initiatives have tried to convince households in the developing world to change their behaviour and adopt the new technology. But they have had very limited success.

This study turns to the often overlooked but important role of social relations for individual behavioural change and examines the question of how, and how far, behaviour change techniques (BCTs) can promote adoption of improved cookstoves. Based on previous theoretical and empirical insights, the study assumes that social relations have great influence on the diffusion and adoption of new innovations.

To answer the research question, the study compared improved cookstove users who acquired improved biomass-powered stoves from two different implementers, using a survey that included an egocentric social network analysis. The study findings suggest that the implementer who provided ongoing post-sales contact and support, and who marketed the stoves to existing social groups with a high level of shared identity, achieved much higher levels of adoption.

The results also suggest that BCTs can be used to create a social multiplier effect, with improved cookstove users recruiting new users. The findings could be of great value for researchers and clean technology implementers alike.

Download the working paper (PDF, 2.6 MB)

Download the working paper (low-res PDF, 780 KB)

Read more about the SEI Initiative on Behaviour and Choice