Frugal Innovation in Africa: Towards a research agenda

Author(s): Van Beers, C., P. Knorringa & A. Leliveld
Publication date: 2014
Position Paper for: Panel Session PS040404 ‘Frugal Innovation and Technology Networks with Africa’ 14th EADI General Conference Responsible Development in a Polycentric World: Inequality, Citizenship and the Middle Classes
Title: Frugal Innovation in Africa: Towards a research agenda.

Since 2010 the term Frugal Innovation has emerged in the innovation literature. The frugal innovation discourse has its roots in the practitioner community beginning around 2008 exemplifying innovation by Asian firms and by the emerging market giants India and China. In 2010 the term was coined by The Economist to refer to newly arising innovation manifestations in emerging markets, notably in Asia. Not surprisingly therefore, existent studies on frugal innovation have largely focused on Asia. This position paper aims to present a research agenda on frugal innovation in Africa. To arrive at this research agenda we first explore what frugal innovation actually is and whether frugal innovation could be considered as a distinct, new type of innovation. Secondly, we explore briefly how frugal innovation theoretically could be captured if we want to understand frugal innovation in Africa and confront these with the empirical realities in today’s Africa. We conclude by presenting a research agenda, which evolves from the discussions in the preceding sections.

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