Title: The social dimension of frugal innovation

Authors: Rakhshanda Khan; Helinä Melkas

Addresses: Business Programmes Unit, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Ratapihantie 13, 00520 Helsinki, Finland ' School of Engineering Science, LUT University, Lahti Campus, Mukkulankatu 19, 15210 Lahti, Finland

Abstract: In the layperson's mind, the term frugal innovation evokes ideas of frugality and cheap solutions. Experts share a broader understanding of frugal innovation as the ability to do more with less by increasing business and social value (Radjou and Prabhu, 2014). Emerging researches focus on its strategic, technological and organisational aspects. However, the core of frugal innovation is its social dimension, yet this has generally been overlooked. The aim of this paper is to explore the social dimension by showing the potential of frugal innovation to prompt social innovation. Empirical material derived from four case studies of frugal innovation illustrates this strong social dimension. Frugal innovation adds value by producing solutions cheaper than the alternatives, and allows non-consumers to become consumers, which itself is social innovation. This paper presents a novel view of frugal innovation and social innovation as closely related. The umbrella term socially driven innovation is suggested to incorporate both social and frugal innovation.

Keywords: frugal innovation; social innovation; socially driven innovation; frugality.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2020.109234

International Journal of Technology Management, 2020 Vol.83 No.1/2/3, pp.160 - 179

Accepted: 11 Nov 2019
Published online: 02 Sep 2020 *

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