Skip to main content

Frugal Innovations and Actor–Network Theory: A Case of Bamboo Shoots Processing in Manipur, India

Abstract

Scarce resources, low-income level of consumers and cultural values drive innovators to resort to low-cost, local-centric idea of frugal innovations both in the formal and informal sectors. Such innovations are the outcome of complex processes and one needs to understand them in their context. We aim to explore the process of frugal innovations in the informal food processing sector of bamboo shoots in the Indian state of Manipur by using Actor–Network Theory. We conducted an ethnographic study and followed the actors engaged in bamboo shoots processing for 4 years. We found that frugal innovations are the outcome of negotiations among diverse actors as they attempt to extend their networks and maintain their complex relation during the process of translation. We also argue that the fundamental premises of ANT such as symmetry and inclusion of non-human actors; will enrich the understanding of frugal innovation processes, especially of the informal sector.

Des ressources limitées, le faible niveau de revenu des consommateurs et les valeurs culturelles incitent les innovateurs à recourir à des idées peu coûteuses et centrées sur le lieu, c’est-à-dire des innovations frugales dans les secteurs formel et informel. De telles innovations sont le résultat de processus complexes et il est nécessaire de les comprendre dans leur contexte. Nous explorons le processus d’innovations frugales dans le secteur informel, c’est-à-dire l’industrie agroalimentaire, en particulier les pousses de bambou à Manipur, en Inde, en utilisant la théorie acteur-réseau. Pour examiner le processus, nous avons mené une étude ethnographique et nous avons suivi les acteurs engagés dans la production des pousses de bambou. Nous avons constaté que les innovations frugales sont le résultat de négociations entre divers acteurs alors même qu’ils tentent d’étendre leurs réseaux et de maintenir leur relation complexe pendant le processus de traduction. Nous soutenons également que les prémisses fondamentales de la théorie acteur-réseau telles que la symétrie et l’inclusion d’acteurs non humains permettront d’élargir la compréhension des processus d’innovation frugale dans le secteur informel.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3

References

  • Bhaduri, S. (2016) Frugal innovation by ‘the small and the marginal’: an alternative discourse on innovation and development. Inaugural lecture Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity, 23 May 2016, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Hague, The Netherlands. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303677051_Frugal_Innovation_by_’the_small_and_the_marginal’_an_alternative_discourse_on_innovation_and_development, accessed 20 August 2016.

  • Bhaduri, S. and Kumar, H. (2011) Extrinsic and intrinsic motivations to innovate: Tracing the motivation of ‘grassroot’ innovators in India. Mind and Society 10(1): 27–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bhaduri, S., Sinha, K.M. and Knorringa, P. (2017) Frugality and cross-sectoral policymaking for food security. NJAS - Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.njas.2017.08.002.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bhatti, Y. (2012) What is Frugal, what is Innovation? Towards a Theory of Frugal Innovation. Said Business School, Working Paper, Oxford, UK.

  • Bound, K. and Thornton, I. (2012) Our Frugal Future: Lessons from India’s innovation system. London: NESTA. Business School, Working Paper, Oxford, UK.

  • Callon, M. (1986) Some elements of sociology of translation: Domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St Brieuc Bay. In: L. John (ed.) Power, Action & Belief. A New Sociology of Knowledge? London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

  • Dabke, S. (2011) Emerging Markets – The Epicenter for Creativity and Innovation. http://www.docstoc.com/docs/82388590/Emerging_markets, accessed 20 October 2015.

  • Devi, W.P. and Kumar, H. (2016) Innovation processes of Cymbopogon citratus Tea in Manipur, India: An Actor network theory perspective. International Journal of Actor Network Theory and Technological Innovations. 8(3): 10–25. https://doi.org/10.4018/IJANTTI.2016070102.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Drazin, R. and Schoonhoven, C.B. (1996) Community, population, and organization effects on innovation: A multilevel perspective. The Academy of Management Journal 39(5): 1065–1083.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eyring, M.J., Johnson, M.W. and Nair, H. (2011) New business models in emerging markets. Harvard Business Review 89(1/2): 88–95.

    Google Scholar 

  • Giri, S.S. (1988) Studies on Certain Biochemical Aspect of the Bamboos of Manipur. PhD Thesis, Manipur University, Imphal, Manipur.

  • Govindarajan, V. and Trimble, C. (2012) Reverse Innovation: Create far from Home, Win Everywhere. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gupta, A.K. (2016) Grassroots Innovation: Minds on the Margin are not Marginal Minds. India: Penguin Random House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hammersley, M. and Atkinson, P. (Eds.) (1995) Ethnography: Principles in practice. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hassard, J., Law, J. and Lee, N. (1999) Actor-Network Theory and managerialism. Organization 6(3): 387–390.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hoholm, T. (2009). The Contrary Forces of Innovation: An Ethnography of Innovation Processes in the Food Industry. PhD Thesis submitted at BI Norwegian School of Management, Department of Innovation and Economic Organisation. Series of Dissertations 6/2009.

  • Hossain, M. (2017) Mapping the frugal innovation phenomenon, Technology in Society, 10.1016/j.techsoc.2017.09.006.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kananbala, S. (1997) Extraction of Phytosterol from fresh and fermented edible succulent bamboo shoots and their microbial bio-conversion into Adrosta- 1,4 diene, 17- Dione (ADD). PhD Thesis, Manipur University, Imphal, Manipur.

  • Knorringa, P., Peša, I., Leliveld, A. and van Beers, C. (2016) Frugal innovation and development: Aides or adversaries? European Journal of Development Research. 28(2): 143–153.10.1057/ejdr.2016.3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kumar, H. and Bhaduri, S. (2014) Jugaad to grassroot innovations: understanding the landscape of the informal sector innovations in India. African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development. 6(1): 13–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lastovicka, J.L., Bettencourt, L.A., Hughner, R.S. and Kuntze, R.J. (1999) Lifestyle of the tight and frugal: Theory and measurement. Journal of Consumer Research 26(1): 85–98.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Latour, B. (1987) Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Latour, B. (1996) On Actor-Network Theory: A few clarifications plus more than a few complications. Soziale Welt 47(4): 369–381.

    Google Scholar 

  • Latour, B. (1999) On recalling ANT. The Sociological Review 47(1): 15–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Latour, B. (2005) Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Law, J. (1992) Notes on the theory of the actor-network: Ordering, strategy, and heterogeneity. Systems Practice 5(4): 379–393.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nakata, C. and Weidner, K. (2012) Enhancing new product adoption at the base of the pyramid: A contextualized model. Journal of Production Innovation Management 29(1): 21–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nash, J.A. (2000) Towards the revival and reform of the subversive virtue: frugality. In: A.R. Chapman, R.L.Petersen and B. Smith-Moran (Eds.) Consumption, Population and Sustainability: Perspectives from Science and Religion. Washington, DC: Island Press, pp. 167–190.

  • National Mission for Bamboo Applications, India 2009.

  • Nongdam, P. (2013) Bamboos as a source of nutrient-rich ethnic foods of North-East India and their conservation via micropropagation. Proceedings of the 3rd Annual International Conference on Advances in Biotechnology, Singapore, 7–13.

  • Nongdam, P. (2015). Traditional fermented bamboo shoot foods of North-East India and their characteristic natural microbial flora. 10th World Bamboo Congress, Korea 2015 Theme: Food and Pharmaceuticals.

  • Parvati, S. (1987). Studies on nutritive value and anti-carcinogenic activity of Bamboo shoot ferment. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Manipur University.

  • Prahalad, C.K. (2012) Bottom of the pyramid as a source of breakthrough innovations. Journal of Product Innovation Management 29(1): 6–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Prahalad, C.K. and Mashelkar, R. A. (2010) Innovation’s Holy Grail. Harvard Business Review 88(7/8): 132–141.

    Google Scholar 

  • Prescott, S.C. and Dunn, C.B. (1959) Industrial Microbiology. New York: McGraw- Hill, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Radjou, N., Prabhu, J., and Ahuja, S. (2012) Frugal Innovation: Lessons from Carlos Ghosn, CEO, Renault-Nissan. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2012/07/frugal-innovation-lessons-from accessed 28 April 2016.

  • Sarangthem, K. and Singh, N. (2003) Microbial bioconversion of metabolites from fermented succulent bamboo shoots into phytosterols. Current Science. 84(12): 1544–1547.

    Google Scholar 

  • Singleton, V. and Michael, M. (1993) Actor-networks and ambivalence: General practitioners in the UK cervical screening programme. Social Studies of Science 23(2): 227–264.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tatnall, A. (2010) Actor-Network Theory and Technology Innovation: Advancements and New Concepts. Hershey, USA: IGI Global.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tiwari, R., Kalogerakis, K. and Herstatt, C. (2014) Frugal innovation and analogies: Some propositions for product development in emerging economies. Proceedings of the R&D Management Conference, June 3–6, Stuttgart, Germany: pp 15–23.

  • van Beers, C., Knorringa, P. and Leliveld, A. (2012) Frugal Innovation in Africa: Tracking Unilever’s washing powder sachets. In: J.B. Gewald, A. Leliveld and I. Pesa (eds.) Transforming innovations in Africa; explorative studies on appropriation in African societies. Boston, Leiden: Brill Publishers, pp. 59–77.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • van Beers, C., Knorringa, P. and Leliveld, A. (2014) Frugal Innovation in Africa, Towards a Research Agenda. Paper presented at 14th EADI General Conference ‘Responsible Development in a Polycentric World: Inequality, Citizenship and the Middle Classes’; 23–26 June 2014, Bonn, Germany. http://www.cfia.nl/uploads/cffiia/attachments/Frugal%20-Innovation%20in%20Africa.pdf accessed 30 March 2016.

Download references

Acknowledgements

We are thankful to the anonymous reviewers and Saradindu Bhaduri for their valuable inputs. The paper is an outcome of a doctoral research funded by ICSSR, New Delhi.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hemant Kumar.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Devi, W.P., Kumar, H. Frugal Innovations and Actor–Network Theory: A Case of Bamboo Shoots Processing in Manipur, India. Eur J Dev Res 30, 66–83 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41287-017-0116-1

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41287-017-0116-1

Keywords

  • bamboo shoots
  • frugal innovations
  • Actor–Network theory
  • India
  • food processing industry
  • Manipur