Frugal Innovation by the Small and the Marginal: An Alternative Discourse

erasmusSince its entry into the discourse on innovation some years ago, frugal innovation has attracted keen attention from scholars and policymakers alike. The European Union, for instance, is currently exploring options for policy support to build up frugal innovation capabilities in its industry. Among academic scholars, reception of the term has been both enthusiastic and cautious. While scholars in management studies have overwhelmingly welcomed its arrival in academic discourse, scholars in the field of innovation and development have been rather sceptical about its implications. For many in this group, the term is merely ‘corporate spin’ or ‘old wine in a new bottle’. The absence of a clear definition of the term may have contributed to this mixed response.

In the Prince Claus Chair Inaugural Lecture delivered at ISS, The Hague, the Netherlands on 23rd May 2016, Dr Saradindu Bhaduriof JNU contributes to this debate by broadening the domain of frugal innovation research. This is achieved by bringing the innovative activities of individuals and firms in the informal economies of the global South onto the radar of frugal innovation scholarship. It is argued that an understanding of frugal innovation can contribute to formulating an alternative discourse on innovation and development in an important way.

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