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School of Business | Department of Management Studies | MSc Degree Programme in Creative Sustainability | 2015
Thesis number: 14103
Local frugal innovations: How do resource-scarce innovations emerge in India?
Author: Wierenga, Marleen
Title: Local frugal innovations: How do resource-scarce innovations emerge in India?
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Management Studies
Academic subject: MSc Degree Programme in Creative Sustainability
Index terms: kestävä kehitys; sustainable development; innovaatiot; innovations; prosessit; processes
Pages: 77
Full text:
» hse_ethesis_14103.pdf pdf  size:2 MB (1089943)
Key terms: frugal innovation, local frugal innovation, grassroots innovation, resource-scarcity, India
This thesis investigates the innovation process of frugal innovations at the grassroots level from ideation, to development and finally market entry. Existing literature is focused mostly on frugal innovations in a corporate environment. Nevertheless, also people living at the bottom of the pyramid have potential to innovate useful products. For these innovations the thesis establishes the concept local frugal innovations to emphasize their uniqueness inside the general frugal innovation discourse.

The research is an exploratory case study using three cases from India representing frugal innovations at the grassroots level. Firstly, Mitticool which is a refrigerator made out of clay. Secondly, low-cost sanitary napkins and a machine to produce these napkins locally in villages. Thirdly a milking machine which operates without electricity. The data material is collected mainly from secondary sources using online data and visual data.

The innovation process of frugal innovations at the grassroots level is different in comparison with the traditional innovation process. Local frugal innovators get the idea for the innovation from a problem either he or his family members suffer from it. In the case of local frugal innovations studied in this thesis, the innovator is not highly educated nor a scientist, but rather learning by doing and by using the means at hand. Throughout most of the innovation process the innovator acts alone.

The contribution to literature is the understanding of local frugal innovations and the innovation process. The study shows that the process for local frugal innovations is rather simple, flowing from idea to research and development, finally arriving at a final product. It is only at this point that external support enters the picture.

The innovators have the capacity to conduct necessary research on their own, despite the limited access to financial and other resources. The solution is a holistic answer to the problem, including for instance also the aspect of local rural employment. The innovation can be used widely to people like the innovator himself.
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