Title: Frugal innovation approaches to sustainable domestic energy: two cases of solar water heating from Brazil

Authors: Hans-Christian Busch; Tobias Dauth; Luise Fischer; Marcelo Souza

Addresses: Department of Economic and Social Geography, Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Cologne, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, D-50923 Cologne, Germany ' Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Junior Professorship in International Management, HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, Jahnallee 59, D-04109 Leipzig, Germany; Division Corporate Development in International Competition, Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy (IMW), Neumarkt 9-19, D-04109 Leipzig, Germany ' Division Corporate Development in International Competition, Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy (IMW), Neumarkt 9-19, D-04109 Leipzig, Germany ' Indústria e Comércio Fox de Reciclagem e Proteção ao Clima Ltda., Rod. D.G.P.B. Couto, 1800, Km 88, 13318-000 Cabreúva, SP, Brazil

Abstract: This paper aims to shed light on sustainability oriented frugal innovation. We explore how frugal approaches to innovation can be used as affordable and environmentally sustainable alternatives to established water heater systems. Using a descriptive case study approach, two examples of frugal innovators in Brazil are being depicted. We develop a better understanding how frugal approaches to solving similar environmental problems vary between different organisational forms. Moreover, we investigate in which situations a frugal approach to sustainable innovation appears to be suitable. Our findings indicate that distinct approaches to frugal innovation can be pursued developing environmentally sustainable and affordable technology. Comparing a grassroots non-profit organisation to a for-profit corporation, we identify different degrees of relational importance of frugality in environmental sustainability. We show that frugal approaches represent viable alternatives in achieving circular products and that these approaches can contribute to a socially inclusive form of environmentally friendly domestic energy use.

Keywords: frugal innovation; sustainable water heating; grassroots innovation; circular economy; bricolage; emerging economies; Brazil.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTLID.2018.093725

International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development, 2018 Vol.10 No.3/4, pp.231 - 257

Received: 21 Sep 2017
Accepted: 02 Apr 2018

Published online: 23 Jul 2018 *

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