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Conceptualising Inclusive Innovation: Modifying Systems of Innovation Frameworks to Understand Diffusion of New Technology to Low-Income Consumers

  • Christopher Foster
  • Richard HeeksEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

Inclusive innovation is the means by which new goods and services are developed for and/or by the billions living on lowest incomes. Although a topic of increasing interest, it has been relatively under-researched and under-conceptualised to date. This article studies arguably the most successful new technology to reach low-income groups: the mobile phone, focusing specifically on its diffusion in Kenya. Systems of innovation are shown to be an appropriate frame for conceptualisation of inclusive innovation. However, the conventional content of this framework must be modified to allow for particular features of inclusive innovation, including the nature of innovations required, the actors involved and their interrelations, the type of learning they undertake, and the institutional environment in which they operate. Four system domains must be effective if inclusive innovation is to succeed: the product, its retailing and support, the micro-enterprises that provide these demand-side services, and the wider context.

Keywords

inclusive innovation systems of innovation mobile phones bottom-of-the-pyramid 

Abstract

L’innovation inclusive est le moyen par lequel de nouveaux produits et services sont développés pour et/ou par les milliards de personnes aux revenus les plus faibles. Bien que ce thème fasse l’objet d’un intérêt croissant, il reste à ce jour relativement peu étudié et sous-conceptualisé. Cet article examine la technologie qui a probablement le mieux réussi à atteindre les populations à faibles revenus, à savoir le téléphone mobile et, plus particulièrement, sa diffusion au Kenya. Nous montrons que les systèmes d’innovation constituent un cadre approprié pour la conceptualisation de l’innovation inclusive. Toutefois, le contenu traditionnel de ce cadre doit être modifié pour pouvoir prendre en compte les caractéristiques particulières de l’innovation inclusive, notamment la nature des innovations nécessaires, les acteurs impliqués ainsi que leurs interrelations, les types d’apprentissage qu’ils entreprennent et l’environnement institutionnel dans lequel ils évoluent. Quatre domaines de système doivent fonctionner efficacement pour permettre le succès de l’innovation inclusive: le produit lui-même, sa distribution et les services d’assistance, les micro-entreprises qui fournissent ces services axés sur la demande et, enfin, le contexte général

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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IDPM, University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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