The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 143–153 | Cite as

Frugal Innovation and Development: Aides or Adversaries?

  • Peter KnorringaEmail author
  • Iva Peša
  • André Leliveld
  • Cees van Beers
Original Article


Frugal innovation aims to bring products, services and systems within the reach of billions of poor and emerging middle-class consumers. Through significantly cutting costs while safeguarding user value, frugal innovation opens opportunities for new business models and may well disrupt innovation processes in entire economies. The debate on the developmental implications of frugal innovation is ideologically polarized. Whereas advocates suggest a business view of ‘win-win’ in which companies can earn profits while simultaneously alleviating poverty, critics argue that frugal innovation will merely exacerbate capitalist exploitation and inequality. In this contribution we argue that an empirical approach is needed to assess where and when frugal innovation is more likely to enhance inclusive development.


frugal innovation entrepreneurship technology inclusive development inequality 


Les innovations frugales portent des produits, des services, et des systèmes à la portée de billions de consommateurs pauvres et de l’aspirante classe moyenne. Les innovations frugales baissent les couts et préservent la valeur pour les consommateurs, et créent des nouveaux modèles économiques qui ont le potentiel de perturber les processus d’innovation dans plusieurs économies. Le débat sur les implications développementales de l’innovation frugale est idéologiquement polarisé. Les défenseurs des innovations frugales suggèrent un scenario d’affaires bénéfique pour toutes les parties, ou les entreprises peuvent réaliser des profits simultanément soulageant la pauvreté. Les critiques des innovations frugales soutiennent qu’elles vont simplement augmenter l’exploitation capitale et l’inégalité. Dans cet article, on soutien qu’un approche empirique est nécessaire pour établir où et quand une innovation frugale est plus susceptible de soutenir le développement inclusif.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Knorringa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Iva Peša
    • 2
  • André Leliveld
    • 2
  • Cees van Beers
    • 3
  1. 1.International Institute of Social Studies – Erasmus University of RotterdamThe HagueThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Technical University DelftDelftThe Netherlands

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