Creative individuals can help both organizations and communities improve their performance. While Western theories of individuals’ creativity in organizations tend to stress the importance of access to resources for such improvement (Bradley et al., 2011), the other side of this effect is that individuals without adequate resources are unlikely to realize the creativity needed to develop solutions and are thus destined to achieve poor performance. As an extension of this logic, people in resource-poor environments are the least able to mobilize the resources needed to formulate creative solutions, which is troublesome since these individuals are most in need of creative solutions to problems (to improve their lives). Contrasting this emphasis on resources for generating creative solutions, bricolage refers to individuals’ actions to develop creative solutions in environments with resource constraints (Baker & Nelson, 2005). Indeed, as the old saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention,” but despite evidence that such actions generate creative solutions, researchers question how beneficial bricolage and the resulting solutions are for firms.

However, in the context of resource-poor environments, the firm level of analysis may be less suitable for elucidating the benefits of individual creative problem solving. Along these lines, instead of focusing on firm growth as a beneficial outcome of creative activities, scholars investigating resource-poor areas in the East have started to call for more research on inclusivegrowth. These scholars argue that exclusively focusing on firm performance is not inclusive enough to capture the benefits of creative problem solving for improving the social and economic well-beingof marginalized members of society (George et al., 2012). Thus, in this chapter, we go beyond traditional Western theories of firms’ competitive advantage to explore how creative problem solving in resource-poor environments affects other types of performance.

To do so, we investigate outcomes of creative problem solving in the highly resource-poor context of rural India. In particular, we theorize on the outcomes stemming from an Indian cultural source of creative problem solving known as jugaad. Jugaad is a process relying on individuals’ assertive defiance to engage in trial-and-error experientiallearning so they can recombine at-hand resources for new purposes to devise frugal quick-fix solutions. Based on an inductive interpretive case study of individuals engaged in jugaad—called jugaadus—we build a model of how jugaad impacts firm and inclusivegrowth. While we show that jugaad entails a behavioral component consistent with the concept of bricolage (i.e., “making do by applying combinations of the resources at hand to new problems and opportunities” [Baker & Nelson, 2005]), we also demonstrate that jugaad is a broader concept in that it also comprises an attitudinal dimension (assertive defiance) and an experiential dimension.

From our investigation of the antecedents and consequences of jugaad, we offer two main insights into creative problem solving under resource scarcity and poverty. First, we demonstrate that jugaad generates a duality of outcomes—namely, low firm growth (i.e., minimal [if any] sustainable competitive advantage for a firm) and high inclusivegrowth (i.e., improved well-beingfor marginalized members of society). This insight has implications for the literature on creativity, entrepreneurship, and regional development. In particular, while scholars have recognized that solutions can be and are developed in spite of (or because of) resource constraints, many have also questioned the usefulness of these solutions for firms (Baker & Nelson, 2005). We show that although the solutions generated through jugaad tend to be challenging to market, scale, and protect (and are therefore unlikely to create sustainable competitive advantage for firm growth), they do typically have a positive impact on the individuals who develop them (i.e., the jugaadus) and their communities. These varying outcome attributes help explain the “mixed findings” in prior research on solutions developed in resource-poor environments and stress the value of going beyond the firm level of analysis to explain this impact. Thus, by providing a deeper understanding of the East’s focus on problem solving and the subsequent effects on individual and community growth, this chapter provides a counterweight to the West’s focus on sustainable competitive advantage and its effects on firm growth. In other words, we offer a broader and more inclusive view of the impact of solutions.

Second, studies exploring inclusivegrowth have mainly focused on the roles multinationals, governments, and non-governmental organizations play in delivering solutions to help people living in resource-poor regions overcome their problems (Ansari et al., 2012; Khavul & Bruton, 2013). Extending this earlier, more Western line of research, in this chapter, we specifically explore local sources of inclusive growth and the associated implications for growth at the individual and community levels instead of exclusively (or primarily) at the firm level. Even though the creative problem-solving process of jugaad does not typically result in commercializable solutions, the panacea for firm growth, it does often lead to creative solutions that ultimately enhance community members’ lives, the basis for inclusive growth.

Inclusive Growth

An emerging stream of research has started to explore the notion of inclusivegrowth. Emphasizing the question of who benefits from innovations, this research stream investigates the extent to which innovations “improve the social and economic well-beingof communities that have structurally been denied access to resources, capabilities, and opportunities” (George et al., 2012: 661)—inclusive innovations. Such inclusive innovations can include policy changes implemented by governments as well as new products, services, processes, and/or business models (typically) implemented by large, established organizations (e.g., Halme et al., 2012). When inclusive innovations like these are implemented, not only can the respective innovative organizations grow markets and generate profits (Prahalad, 2006), but the poor also become “enfranchised as customers, employees, owners, and community members” (George et al., 2012: 662). Thus, previous research on inclusive growth has increased understanding of the intra-organizational processes driving the development of inclusive innovations and how organizations can achieve both firm growth and inclusive growth. However, we know less about how local individuals create solutions that, although not necessarily commercializable, still contribute to inclusive growth. We discuss such processes later in the chapter.

Creative Problem Solving Under Resource Scarcity

Instead of highlighting the role abundant resources play in facilitating creativity (at least for low to moderate levels of slack resources [Bradley et al., 2011]), research on bricolage has typically focused on the behaviors individuals undertake to overcome their environmental constraints. Bricolage refers to “making do by applying combinations of the resources at hand to new problems and opportunities” (Baker & Nelson, 2005: 333). While there are undoubtedly many benefits to bricolage, it appears that engaging in more of such behaviors may not be unambiguously positive. For instance, Baker and Nelson (2005) found that individuals who engage in bricolage for most aspects of their business operations (i.e., parallel bricolage) tend to face substantial obstacles to firm growth. Moreover, many researchers believe bricolage results in poor firm performance because it entails “making do,” which implies the resulting innovations are “second-best solutions” that are barely (or not quite) good enough to solve the corresponding problems (Lanzara, 1999: 347). Indeed, bricolage may even negatively influence firms due to (1) wasted effort from implementing a series of temporary solutions to handle complex problems, (2) lack of focus on developing more permanent (or at least more durable) solutions to problems, and (3) opportunity costs from not developing relationships with stakeholders and suppliers who could help improve firm performance (Senyard et al., 2013).

Along with bricolage, scholars have also offered jugaad as another source of creative problem solving in resource-constrained environments, predominately at the individual level. Since jugaad is both a term in a common language and an increasingly popular concept in scholarship (largely in commentaries), many definitions for the concept have arisen. Although these definitions vary slightly, they all indicate that jugaad entails making do with whatever resources are at hand to devise frugal quick-fix solutions to overcome constraints (Prabhu & Jain, 2015; Rangaswamy & Densmore, 2013). In addition, scholars have argued that jugaad produces a broad set of benefits for jugaadus (e.g., customized machines and vehicles to meet their individual needs) as well as cost-efficient solutions for critical problems, including healthcare, power, and infrastructure problems (Sekhsaria, 2013).

Scholars have investigated jugaad to more fully understand “the Indian” way of solving problems, the accomplishments of prominent Indian organizations, and the leadership approaches of top management in Indian firms like Infosys and Wipro (e.g., Gulati, 2010; Hammonds, 2003). In these investigations, jugaad is often described as a native cultural asset rooted in a unique, complex, and genius approach of doing more with less in a society characterized by scarcity and is seen as an asset that could potentially be exported to other countries (Lamont, 2010). As with bricolage, many laud the benefits of jugaad; however, it too may have negative consequences. In particular, jugaad has been linked to systematic risk, dangerous solutions that breach international standards, digital piracy, and other illicit activities (Birtchnell, 2011; Rangaswamy & Densmore, 2013; Sundaram, 2010). In the areas of transportation and machinery, for example, jugaad has led to injuries and death (Husain et al., 2009) as individuals alter vehicle engines (i.e., jugaad gadi) to increase mileage and use kerosene in vehicles instead of gasoline, resulting in higher pollution. In addition, farmers have been accused of applying beverages like Pepsi and Coke to crops instead of pesticides. Some people even create make-shift pistols (i.e., katta) out of the steering bores of cars for illegal activities (Kumar, 2011). Thus, against this background, we examine how the process of jugaad and the resulting creative solutions to problems in resource-poor environments affect both firm growth and inclusivegrowth.

Our Context—Jugaad in Rural India

This chapter is based on our study of the impactof jugaadin resource-poor environments. We decided to explore this topic in rural India because this region represents an extremely resource-poor environment. Rural India is “home to roughly one-quarter of the world’s poor (those living on less than $1.25/day)” (Jacoby, 2016: 159), and approximately 70% of India’s total population resides there. For additional details of the sample, research method, and analysis, we refer readers to the source article by Shepherd et al. (2020). Based on the findings of our study, in this chapter (and in the article), we present the dual-outcome model of jugaad that emerged from the data. As illustrated in Fig. 1.1, the individuals we studied lived in resource-poor environments that necessitated creative solutions. They were able to recognize salient problems in their environments, and they had in-depth knowledge of technologies but not of markets. As explained earlier, jugaad entails individuals’ assertive defiance to engage in trial-and-error experientiallearning so they can recombine available resources for new purposes to devise frugal quick-fix solutions. In our study, these jugaad solutions resulted in a duality of outcomes—namely outcomes related to both firm growth and inclusivegrowth. Regarding firm growth, the jugaad solutions created little value for the jugaadus’ firms, at least when generating a sustainable competitive advantage for firm growth. Specifically, while these solutions did typically lower users’ costs (a valuable outcome), the jugaadus’ firms could not capture that value. Value capture was challenging mainly because the jugaad solutions were difficult to commercialize: They were difficult to market, scale in terms of production, and safeguard against imitation.

Fig. 1.1
figure 1

Jugaad model of creative problem solving under resource constraints (Figure is from Shepherd et al., 2020)

Regarding inclusivegrowth, other individuals often benefited from imitating solutions developed by other jugaadus, including starting new businesses. These benefits for other individuals and businesses provided further value to the localcommunity, and as a result, the community came to respect the jugaadus. In turn, the jugaadus benefited from their activities in the form of improved psychological well-being from fulfilling their intrinsic need to solve challenging problems, the ability to “do good” for others, and increased feelings of self-worth.

Stimulating Creativity: Experiencing Adversity

According to our findings, the jugaadus were embedded in an adverse environment. As explained above, rural India is characterized by significant resource constraints, which directly contribute to jugaad as a form of creative problem solving. Indeed, many of the individuals we interviewed mentioned the notion of necessity being the mother of invention. For instance, Malik, who invented an electric compost machine to cultivate mushrooms, indicated this popular belief about necessity when talking to us:

People who have money cannot make new things because they don’t feel the need; they have money to satisfy their needs. People who don’t have money will keep trying to fulfill their needs. The thinking of a rich man is different from us. I am a common man and not so rich. My thinking is different.

Similarly, Kotari explained, “Only if the person faces trouble sometimes... then he would learn the necessity of such things.” Verma likewise discussed his motivation for engaging in jugaad to make a production process more efficient:

In the village, people form a cooperative society. About 50 to 60 villagers are members and run such factories. The manual process was very complex—the material needed to be in 20 kg bundles, which is labor oriented. The process was tedious and long, transporting from one city to another. The ginning process, being long, used to last until the end of June when the rainy season started. This was leading to material wastage. Drying use to take lot of time, and it was a wasteful process. For all these reasons, a speedy process was required. This is how I started the project. Money making was not the motive behind it. It should make life easy for everyone.

The jugaadus had also faced other personal hardships that seemed to push them into jugaad. For example, Sharma had health-related issues that required him to take action to remedy his situation and ultimately pushed him to develop a gas-powered three-wheel vehicle, as one of his family members explained:

First thing is he has a hearing disability. He used to drive a three-wheel rickshaw. He used to transport nine to 10 cylinders at a time, one weighing a minimum 30 kg. It used to pressure his knees tremendously. So, it was absolutely necessary to make something that will work as buying a new vehicle was not affordable.

Although we found evidence that adversity triggered jugaad, our findings do not indicate that this adversity hindered the creative problem-solving process. Indeed, only one jugaadu lamented his resource-poor environment. Singh, who developed organic fertilizers and adapted vegetable varieties, told us, “I did some experiments with cow dung fertilizers. It was successful, but due to space constraints, I could not continue it.”

From a Knowing Perspective

While the jugaadus had developed in-depth knowledge of the problems that people in their region faced and how technologies worked, they knew little about up-to-date business practices and processes. For instance, Sharma had extensive knowledge about machines and gas stoves and was thus able to solve a problem innovatively:

I used to supply gas at Prem Gas Agency. I made a vehicle, a three wheeler. I did not need to go to the petrol pump for 20 years. People used to look curiously at it. Now there are many like it, but at the time of my invention, there were none. I tried to run it on gas, and I succeeded … in just two months. I used a domestic regulator. I can show you the photo. I used to repair gas stoves. I was a mechanic looking at the instruments to run an engine, the air and fuel it uses. I made some assumptions and tried to use gas for it…. It worked, as in the engine started, but it did not last. I found a solution for it in one to two months. I made a knitted part, so when the engine is raised, the knitted part is adjusted accordingly.

While the jugaadus had deep knowledge about certain technologies, processes, and problems (that they either personally faced or observed), they generally lacked business knowledge, particularly of markets and marketing. For example, Saini created a remote device for operating firecrackers, but as one of his family members noted, he was “somehow lacking business skills to make a finished product. He had done a series of innovations during his days.” Notably, most jugaadus distinguished between a person who develops a solution and a person who markets a solution. They tended to emphasize the former over the latter, believing that over time, people will realize the value of a solution, as captured by Patel: “You will use [it], and only then will you know it.” Indeed, the jugaadus’ mindset reflected the old adage that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. Patel, for instance, shared the following:

If the machine makes life easier, for example, before washing machines came, clothes were hand washed, but when you know the convenience of using a machine, you do not have to sell it. Same with this machine [Patel’s invention]; when people saw its efficiency, my business started growing.

Similarly, Kotari proudly explained,

I have not done any publicity. But, when nearby villagers saw it, two more farmers approached me and asked me to make the machine for them. After that, another four people approached me to make the machine for them. Like this, the word was spread around. People saw that it works well … so they started approaching me.

Some of the other jugaadus continued searching for solutions that others would ultimately purchase. For instance, after some of his previous solutions failed to gain market acceptance, Panchal developed numerous additional solutions: “I made an electrical machine, which was not accepted. Then I prepared a hand-operated model, which is accepted.” Nevertheless, our findings reveal that the jugaadus cared little about markets or marketing.

To Problematize the Situation

Based on their deep knowledge of different domains, the jugaadus searched for and identified problems in various spheres. First, they sometimes identified problems from their own experiences. For example, Kataria was inspired to develop a rain-protection system due to a problem he repeatedly experienced, as one of his family members explained: “It was seen and noticed many times that our clothes get wet when it rains when we are not home. So he thought something like this should be made so that the clothes don’t get wet from the rain.” Second, the jugaadus sometimes identified problems from their family members’ or co-workers’ experiences. Jagani’s novel multi-purpose farming vehicle, for instance, was inspired by a problem he noticed for his workers in an earlier agricultural process: “See, earlier, we used to sow the groundnut, and the laborers had to carry the pump on their shoulders. So, their shoulders used to ache.” Third, the jugaadus sometimes identified problems from strangers. Gajjar exemplified this third path well—he developed numerous solutions based on strangers’ problems, including an electrical rotating drum, a cultivation machine, and a basic tong tool for home cooking. For example, when telling us about the electrical drum, he explained,

I make nagada [a kettle drum and bell], which people use to worship God in the temple…. Actually the kettle drum gets fixed in one place and two sticks come from the upper side and beat the drum and create sound. After two to four years, the stick beats the same area of the drum, and it becomes weak on that side. Then, they said to turn the drum, but who will go to the temple to change the location of the drum? Then, I felt that instead of turning the drum manually, it should turn automatically…. It should turn every day, so then I decided to make a drum that rotates every day.

According to our findings, the jugaaduswere driven by intrinsic motivation as they seemed to enjoy identifying problems and finding solutions to them. However, prosocial motivation—“the desire to expend effort to benefit other people” regardless of whether one personally benefits or not (Grant, 2008: 50)—also seemed to drive their endeavors. Accordingly, some jugaadus were inspired to identify (and eventually solve) problems that caused substantial difficulty in others’ lives. For example, Patel was motivated to keep children from working in fields so they could go to school, so he developed a cotton-stripping machine:

I am proud that I could improve the studies of the kids in this area. The manual process that I explained to you, each kid had to do it, 2 kg, 5 kg, 7 kg. Even if he [or she] had an exam, it was compulsory. That is the reason that the education level was very poor in our area. Only one or two kids could become engineers and become successful. Otherwise, most of the kids were working in the field. Now the kids do not have to do the manual labor…. Now kids can focus on studies and become doctors, engineers, go abroad for studies. I feel proud.

Panchal, who developed a mechanical incense stick maker, went out of his way to seek contexts in which he could apply his observation skills to identify new problems that required solutions:

We get a lot of time to think like this. We wander every day to see new things. It is also about passion, which forces me to do new things. I always travel by road for this. I don’t take the train usually. By road, the journey gives me a chance [to observe]. Just now, I visited Bhubaneswar by car, around 2000 km. We stop anywhere in a small village and meet different people.

Jugaad: Creative Problem Solving

Our findings of creativeproblem solving—jugaad—in the resource-poor environment of rural India reveal not only a behavioral dimension that is somewhat in line with the notion of bricolage but also attitudinal. Namely, the jugaadus demonstrated a particular attitude, what we labeled assertive defiance, and an orientation toward experientiallearning, both of which are interlinked with and complement the behavioral dimension.

As discussed earlier, jugaad comprises a behavioral dimension related to combining and recombining readily available resources in new ways to generate solutions. In particular, our findings show that the jugaadus acted by “making do.” For example, when defining jugaad, Patel explained, “You take different ideas and make it work.” Similarly, Kataria described how the jugaadus used resources at hand: “If we need any dimension and it is not available, we have to gather that from the garbage and other places; we adjust that thing to make it work.” Moreover, the jugaadus could modify and adjust resources by combining them in new ways, as Patel indicated: “In my opinion, it’s a combination of ideas” (Patel). These and similar findings about the jagaadus’ behaviors align with the concept of bricolage—“making do by applying combinations of resources at hand to new problems and opportunities” (Baker & Nelson, 2005: 333). Overall, these behaviors highlight the jugaadus’ deliberate propensity to disregard the limitations of agreed-upon definitions of resources and constraints (Baker & Nelson, 2005: 334). While the behavioral dimension of combining and recombining available resources reflects the actions involved in developing creative solutions, it does not fully capture the attitude among the jugaadus that was connected to these actions and tendencies, to which we now turn.

We called this attitudinal dimension of jugaadassertive defiance. As we were the first to explore and document this dimension formally, prior literature has not discussed this concept. The closest construct we were able to find was chutzpah, a Yiddish term used in the United States, meaning “boldness, assertiveness, to defy tradition, a willingness to demand what is due, to challenge authority, to raise eyebrows” (Dershowitz, 1992: 18). For the judaadus, assertive defiance entailed substantial “confidence that by trying certain things you will receive desired results” (Patel) and the beliefs that “nothing is impossible.... Whatever challenges you face, you can find a way” (Singh) and that a person can “do work [find solutions] that others can’t do” (Gajjar). Thus, we define assertive defiance as an attitude of boldness; self-belief; and disregard for tradition, conventions, rules, and regulations.

Assertive defiance corresponds with the idea of proactiveness, which has mainly been conceptualized as a dimension of a firm’s entrepreneurial orientation (in addition to the dimensions of innovativeness and risk-taking) (Covin & Slevin, 1989) but has also been applied at the individual level (e.g., Crant, 2000). However, the assertive defianceof jugaad appears to go beyond proactiveness. Specifically, jugaadus’ propensity to defy tradition, undertake the impossible, and find a means no matter what difficulties they face all signal a mindset that is disdainful of constraints—thus, the defiance. This mindset of overlooking, sidestepping, or otherwise disregarding socially constructed constraints serves as the foundation for a different notion of resources “at hand” that enables individuals to combine and recombine available resources into unique configurations. In other words, with assertive defiance, individuals are less restricted in their thinking about what a resource is and what resources are available. Accordingly, assertive defiance helps individuals reconceptualize the amount and/or nature of at-hand resources that can be reconfigured into a new solution. Therefore, assertive defiance is an important part of jugaad because the underlying mindset facilitates a broader perspective of existing resources and decreases (or removes) constraints on how those resources can be (re)combined and used. For these reasons, assertive defiance appears to be particularly important in resource-poor environments; however, it may not be needed (or at least not as much) in munificent environments where resources are “laying around,” and few (if any) constraints restrict how those resources can be combined and/or applied.

Along with the behavior of configuring available resources and the attitudeof assertive defiance, our findings also reveal an experientialdimensionof jugaad related to trial-and-error learning. Namely, the creative problem-solving process from which the jugaadus’ solutions emerged was experiential and iterative. As an example, Dharamveer, who developed a multi-purpose processing machine for small-scale farms, told us the following about his problem-solving process:

When we started making products, we came across problems…. In the first machine, there was no heater, but we used to light a fire. After that, we felt the need for a heater. I made another machine like this, and when I made a third machine, I realized that the product is still burning in the bottom. When that happens, the entire product gets ruined. After that, we started thinking on that. There was one person in Jaipur heating milk, but he was boiling water in the other. I started thinking on that. His milk was not burning, but our product was getting burnt. I started thinking about indirect heat. We were using direct heat…. Yes, and if you use indirect heat, your product will not get burnt. We made the fourth machine along these lines.

As Dharamveer’s comment illustrates, the jugaadus engaged in trial and error to learn what did and did not work so they could improve on their ideas in subsequent attempts. Indeed, prior research has recognized trial and error as a means to explore uncertain environments, but the jugaadus’ trial and error was much more local. Moreover, the jugaadus’ process added depth to their understanding of problems but did not always reveal information about the scope of these problems (i.e., how much other people also experienced problems). In other words, the jugaadus deemed the problem-solving process complete when a solution was good enough to satisfy the needs of the specific individual who inspired it, which was frequently the jugaadu him- or herself.

Furthermore, our findings show that the jugaadus’ experientiallearning was enabled by their assertive defiance. That is, assertive defiance drove the jugaadus to invest the time and energy needed to engage in the numerous rounds of trial and error essential for generating a satisfactory solution. While the assertive attitudinal aspect provided the jugaadus (over-) confidence in their ability to come up with solutions, the defiance attitudinal aspect motivated them to perform trials that tested (and went beyond) constraints imposed by others and to persevere in the face of failure (i.e., failure in terms of resource combinations that did not generate a suitable solution). Indeed, the jugaadus’ assertive defiance appeared to protect them from fear of failure, which may have otherwise constrained or even ended their experiential learning activities (to minimize errors from their experiential learning). Therefore, assertive defiance drove the activities most essential for experiential learning, and experiential learning generated the feeling of personal progress, which strengthened the jugaadus’ motivationand perseverance.

Our findings also reveal that experientiallearning facilitated the jugaadus’ ability to combine available resources. Namely, the jugaadus’ trial-and-error activities led to experiential learning, which informed their subsequent attempts to combine at-hand resources to generate possible solutions to problems. By experimenting with different resource configurations, the jugaadus came to more fully understand the potential value of the resources available to them and the advantages and disadvantages of the varying solutions they developed. The deeper understanding resulting from this experiential learning helped them formulate new ideas for combining the available resources into satisfactory solutions to their problems. These findings thus indicate that people who are less able or willing to undertake experiential learning are less effective at combining resources in ways that generate satisfactory solutions.

Dual Impact of Jugaad

Firm Growth. Because jugaad leads to solutions that are economical and highly focused on current problems, it tends to benefit firms through lower production costs. For instance, Patel’s jugaad solution—a cotton-stripping machine—helped him save on labor costs and time: “Today my machine has a production capacity of two tons. This machine replaces 1,000 laborers. Due to this machine, the production is over by [the] end of April, and it does not drag out until monsoon. Each ginning factory has four to five machines.” Malik and Dharamveer also told us their solutions resulted in reduced labor costs, and Jagani mentioned reduced costs associated with keeping bullocks.

While jugaad does typically reduce production costs, it does not seem to result in products (or services or processes) that can be sold in a way that benefits firms in the long term. Thus, it is not a source of sustainable competitive advantage for several reasons. First, the solutions generated from jugaad are typically not easy to market. Because jugaadus’ terminate the creative problem-solving process once they generate a satisfactory solution for the focal problem (consistent with satisficing [Simon, 1955, 1956]), jugaadu solutions are typically rudimentary and incomplete. They tend to be seen as temporary and lacking durability. For example, when we asked Saini about the lack of market acceptance of his jugaad, he reported, “We tried and people also liked it, but we could not improve the product shape.”

Second, jugaad solutions are not easy to scale. This issue is so universal that it seems to be linked to the notion of jugaad itself. Kataria explained, for example, “If we want to do jugaad on a larger scale and for the long term, jugaad is not successful in that case.” Illustrating this scalability limitation and his belief that others have negative attitudes toward jugaad, he concluded,

Some people are against me. They say I always do jugaad, and I don’t know things. Sometimes I argue with them. I tell them to make something if they have the guts. If I get financial support, I want to bring things to the market on a large scale!

Due to its experiential nature, this creative problem-solving process focuses on solving an immediate problem faced by a particular individual without concern for developing a solution for a larger group of people, not to mention a mass market (i.e., the process does not involve design thinking from the start [Dym et al., 2005]). Although these “good enough” solutions tend to solve current problems, they typically cannot be scaled efficiently.

Finally, jugaad solutions can often be imitated easily, and firms typically cannot achieve a sustainable advantage from a solution others can easily imitate. As Patel noted, for instance, his “product’s design is not very complicated; they can make it after seeing it.” Others believed this ease of imitation stemmed from the observable workings of the unfinished product (Kataria), problems related to filing patents (Sharma and Singh), and inadequate intellectual property protection in India (Saini). Some of the jugaadus were not particularly troubled about users imitating their solutions. For instance, Jagani told us, “If some farmer makes such a device, I would not mind it because I am also a farmer.... How can I ask for my share from him?” However, such imitation was devastating for others. In our field notes, for instance, we noted that Sharma had “destroyed most of his work and is not very interested in jugaad anymore because his work was stolen after the NIF had filed for a patent for him. It hurt him a great deal.” Similarly, when talking about his first creative solution—a battery-operated kite reel—Panchal noted how his product had been copied soon after he first developed it. Whereas he sold the kite reel for 350 rupees, the imitators “were selling it for 200 rupees. So at first, we got [a positive market] response, but afterward, demand decreased. Approximately 10,000 pieces were in the stock that didn’t sell. We had to bear a loss.” Indeed, excluding Patel, who said he held both an American and an Indian patent, all the jugaadus described how their solutions could easily be imitated.

Overall, the jugaad solutions often resulted in an immediate (but typically temporary) reduction in production costs, but the firms did not benefit significantly from these solutions because they were not easy to market or scale, and most were easy to copy. However, although jugaad did not seem to provide clear or sustainable competitive advantages to the jugaadus’ firms, it did seem to enhance the social and economic well-beingof marginalized members of society—that is, it facilitated inclusivegrowth.

Inclusive Growth. While (and largely because) jugaad did not lead to sustainable competitive advantages for the jugaadus’ firms, the resulting solutions did seem to help other businesses and people interested in self-employment. For instance, Sharma told us how one of his jugaad solutions helped others after a flood:

There were floods in 1985, so the candles used to cost 25–30 rupees each, and there was no food, no vegetables, no electricity due to the floods. So I opened the last nut bolt of the stove, and attached one metal pipe here, and it worked [providing light], costing only 10 rupees. I can show it to you; it’s still on my stove.

Singh also explained how his solution enabled people to “gain maximum yield with minimum water and with limited land” and how he believed he had helped “many millions [of people]; farmers, laborers.”

Furthermore, some jugaad solutions provided opportunities for other individuals to become self-employed. For instance, in our field notes, we recorded that Dharamveer “was very positive toward how his machine was empowering women and enabling them to get employment.” Similarly, Marun Mishrani, a user of Panchal’s solution, explained, “This machine provides the lower level of people with the daily bread, you know because this is their earning source.” Thus, jugaad has an indirect positive impacton communities by helping others and promoting self-employment.

Through the jugaad solutions they developed and the benefits that arose from those solutions, the jugaadus facilitated others’ engagement in jugaad and served as networkbrokers to develop additional solutions, perhaps even some solutions that could be commercializable. The most direct way the jugaadus helped others engage in jugaad was by teaching students, including high school students, as in the case of Jagani:

See, some boys had come to me; they had made an electronic crane. It would lift goods from one spot and place it at another spot. But it was not working. So, they approached me. I had informed the high school that any child can approach me if they require my support. So, these boys came to me. I helped them make the device operational. And then their project won the award—they also got a recognition letter. They thanked me. I said if your problem is solved, it is a good thing. See, they had made the crane all right, but the balance was missing. Other aspects were all right, but the balance was missing. So, I helped in solving the problem.

Similarly, Patel opened his workshops to teach locals with a particular focus on university students:

I’m an honorary professor at GTU [Gujarat Technical University]. I’ve been to the technology center of Baroda two times to see the projects or prototypes of engineering students…. So I find them perfect in theory … [but] in applying that theory into practice, they need to have the eye of an innovator who sees the mechanisms and not the product. So whenever I see any product, I understand its mechanisms, and I don’t forget it. When I get an opportunity to use it, then we think of how to design it. Which mechanism can we use for this? We can combine eight to 10 types of mechanisms that are in my mind and choose the best of them.

This enabler role also went beyond helping students, with the jugaadus (e.g., Singh) also inspiring others through their actions. For example, in our field notes, we described how Dharamveer played a mentoring role and was

vocal about how his drive for innovation has also been rubbing off on others in the village. He provided many examples during the talk. When we met his friend, he [Dharamveer] acted more like a superior innovator, and the other person was very much trying to impress him.

Both the director and the operations manager of the NIF also reported that the jugaadus benefitted their communities by motivating others to develop creative solutions and linking nascent jugaadus and resource providers, such as those offering expertise, possible funding, and competition awards. Indeed, through the NIF, several more experienced jugaadus team up with novice jugaadus to help the novices reach a higher potential. Panchal, for instance, explained how he tried to help community members:

So I help such people. For their ideas, I sometimes suggest a new design. For example, there was one machine of Batis [wrapped cotton for lighting oil lamps for God] that was very big in size…. I was asked to give some advice. I suggested a compact design that can be placed on a table. So, if I find an innovative attempt that I like, I help them free of cost. I don’t take credit either. It is his machine and his idea. So that person has around 2,000 such machines. So that is my nature.

In addition to providing expertise themselves, the experienced jugaadus also helped connect community members to other people who could help them. Take the case of Jagani, who helped a community member with a jugaad solution through his network: “I helped him by sending his invention to the right place.... I introduced him to the right people.... I went along with him to meet the people.” Dharambeer also applied his knowledge and network to improve another person’s jugaad solution:

There is one girl who had the idea that there should be a bell that rings automatically. I told her that this is a very good idea. I clicked a photo and made video of that [of the prototype]. I started discussing [it] in [the nearby] college…. I told them to make that and take expenses from me. They made it. The bell we installed at the school, and we thought of converting it to solar power…. I told people that this girl should get a reward for that [her automatic bell]. The Minister of Haryana respected her [by acknowledging the creativity of her invention].

These examples demonstrate how the jugaad solutions helped enhance other individuals’ well-being. However, the jugaaduswere marginalized members of society themselves, and their solutions often improved their own well-being as well. As discussed, the jugaadus were mainly driven to undertake jugaad because they wanted to solve a problem. In line with the idea of intrinsic motivation, our findings reveal that the jugaadus experienced high levels of satisfaction from engaging in the problem-solving process, particularly—it seems—because they were embedded in a resource-poor environment. For example, Gajjar explained how the creative decision-making process offered a challenge he enjoyed solving, and Panchal told us that jugaad could consume his mind, keeping him awake at night. All of the jugaadus exhibited an obsession with generating solutions to the problems they identified, which is reflected particularly well in a statement from Patel’s son about his father: “He is always in an analytical mode, reflecting on what he did right or wrong. Even when I was a child, he was not very interested in my activities but focused on his work.... He is very loyal toward his work.” As these examples highlight, the jugaadus appeared to be committed to the creative problem-solving process. Moreover, jugaad helped the jugaadus achieve and maintain high levels of self-worth, as Gajjar reflected:

If we want to prove our self-superiority and want to feel proud, we should show something that others can’t do, and we want to show our ability. Everybody has that ability, but they don’t want to use their ability. I have so many ideas in my mind…. We need to motivate ourselves…. We have an ego.

The jugaadus also accrued social benefits from their work. Indeed, many were put in the limelight because of their creative solutions, some even being featured in the media. Our field notes revealed many instances of such reputation among the jugaadus, as the following example highlights well:

[The jugaadu] was a well-known personality in the village, and almost everyone we asked about the location of his house could tell us where it was. Also, they were not surprised to see that people from another place were visiting him. Clearly, he had many people visiting him on a regular basis.

Not only were the jugaadus well known, but they were also popular (e.g., “Everyone wants to be his friend” [a member of Malik’s village]) and well respected. As Gajjar explained, with this respect came power:

And now everyone gives me respect as I am doing well. Then we get the feeling of responsibility, and when you think about others, you get power too…. You get the power that gets transmitted from others, and it happens when others have less power of responsibility in them. They can’t do anything, and that is why they transmit their power to us.

While the jugaadus seemed to gain many social benefits from their work, they also hinted at social costs. For example, Jagani faced some doubters early on, but their doubt was eventually overcome:

See, in the beginning, they used to say that I had gone mad, but later on, when they faced a problem and I solved their problems, they came to realize the importance of my work. Today, if you ask anybody, they would say that I can solve any problem. Now, I have made a good name in Babara, in Dhasa.

Saini told us that people have different reactions to jugaadus and that an individual’s reaction,

depends on the position of the person in society. They consider them [jugaadus] different than common people. If the person is rich, they consider it [creative problem solving and its outcomes] good. If he is of the same status, they will feel jealous. And if he is poor, they will think he is mad.

Overall, our findings reveal that jugaad has a dual impact: It may not benefit firm growth, but it does provide a source of inclusivegrowth.


Most agree that firms need creative individuals to establish and maintain a competitive advantage (Mumford, 2000). While slack resources are frequently linked to employee creativity (Woodman et al., 1993), individuals in resource-poor environments likely need to have the highest levels of creativity in their problem solving. Indeed, this possibility has even been captured in sayings like “necessity is the mother of invention.” Although research has recognized that creative behaviors can arise under adversity, some have questioned the value of such activities (Baker & Nelson, 2005; Lanzara, 1999). Thus, the main goal of the study presented in this chapter was to clarify how the creative problem-solving process of jugaad in resource-poor environments impacts both the growth of jugaadus’ firms and inclusivegrowth—a duality of outcomes. While research on problem solving in resource-poor environments and on inclusive growth is rare, a deeper understanding of these topics is needed considering their importance for improving the lives of people facing chronic poverty. The findings presented in this chapter provide a basis for such a deeper understanding by revealing why jugaad solutions generate value beyond firms—namely, supporting inclusive growth. With this jugaad model of creative problem solving under resource scarcity as a foundation, future research can investigate the dual impact of creative solutions—namely, their impact on firm growth and inclusive growth.


With these findings, we make a number of contributions to the literature. To begin, the effects of jugaad are currently debated. Some argue that jugaad could itself be the solution to many of the problems in developing countries (Mantri, 2010), while others claim that not only does jugaad have few benefits but that the resulting solutions can be harmful (Rangaswamy & Densmore, 2013). We outlined why jugaad provides few benefits to firms in terms of competitive advantage for growth and how the generated solutions offer benefits for marginalized members of society in the form of inclusivegrowth. More specifically, we found that jugaad solutions contribute little toward firm growth. While they generally lower production costs (an important outcome), they lack other solution features that firms can capture and exploit to gain a competitive advantage. Indeed, for a solution to provide a sustainable competitive advantage to a firm, it must be rare and inimitable, marketable, and scalable (Barney, 1991). However, we found that jugaad solutions are typically difficult for firms to commercialize because they are usually easy to imitate and are difficult to both market and scale.

Some have argued the need for scholars to take a more inclusive view of growth (George et al., 2012); however, we lack a strong understanding of how individuals living in resource-poorenvironments (locals) can contribute to inclusive growth themselves. Most management research on alleviating poverty has explored how large established firms develop innovations that benefit both the firms themselves and marginalized others (e.g., Halme et al., 2012)—namely firm growth and inclusive growth. In turn, these innovations open up markets for organizations (e.g., multi-national enterprises) and tend to benefit local entrepreneurs, local customers, and local suppliers. Similarly, solutions to eliminate poverty are said to entail both benefits to the innovative organizations that develop them and benefits to the poor (Prahalad, 2006). However, we found that although jugaad solutions often fail to contribute to firm growth (for the jugaadus), they can still substantially affect inclusive growth. In other words, firm growth and inclusive growth do not have to go hand in hand.

Likewise, research on inclusivegrowth has emphasized the importance of generated products and/or services being commercializable, including their design, scalability, and scope (Basu et al., 2013). However, we discovered that the creative problem-solving process of jugaad is less intentional, less “polished,” and less top down than the processes of inclusive growth described in the literature. Indeed, jugaad is often prompted by the humble desire to solve a problem in everyday life (one’s own problem or that of someone “close by”) without much consideration for the broader implications of the process. Our findings demonstrate that the jugaadus were not overly worried about the design, scale, or scope issues (for production, distribution, and so on) vital for successful commercialization. Consequently, their jugaad solutions added little (or nothing) to firm growth. However, many of the characteristics that reduced the jugaadus’ potential to grow their firms also increased inclusive growth.

Thus, while both academics and policymakers (particularly those with a Western perspective) may discount jugaad because it fails to produce a competitive advantage for firms (and thereby has little to no effect on firm growth), this scholarly view is likely overly narrow. In our study, we found that jugaad helped other businesses, created new businesses, enabled the jugaadus to play meaningful roles in developing their communities, and improved the jugaadus’ lives (at least psychologically and socially, if not financially). As such, jugaad contributed to inclusivegrowth by enhancing the well-beingof marginalized members of society (i.e., community members [including the jugaadus] in resource-poor rural India). While our findings are exploratory and thus necessitate further theorizing and empirical testing, they illustrate the potential contributions that will emerge from future research on the creative problem-solving processes used in resource-poor regions throughout the world and their dual impact—namely their impact on both competitive growth and inclusive growth.

In particular, we found that jugaad improved the jugaadus’ well-being. Due to the adverse conditions they faced, the jugaadus were especially driven to use their in-depth knowledge of technology (e.g., engines) and processes to solve the problems identified. They greatly enjoyed the challenge of solving difficult problems without having access to abundant resources. Moreover, jugaad enhanced these individuals’ psychological well-being by meeting their psychological needs. Jugaad also led to increased business growth, but not necessarily of the jugaadus’ own businesses. Namely, jugaad facilitated other businesses in overcoming problems and becoming more efficient, and it also contributed to how new businesses were created. Thus, while protecting intellectual property is important to attain competitive firm growth, the jugaadus’ inability or reluctance to protect the intellectual property of generated solutions served as a basis for inclusivegrowth (rather than commercializable solutions for firm growth). In addition, we found that jugaad positively impacted communities. In a place where most individuals (if not all) lived under some form of adversity, the jugaadus were a source of community pride, of knowledge and skills that could be shared and nurtured, and of social connections. Overall, jugaad was a prosocial mechanism whereby the jugaadus could aid other community members.

Based on our findings, we argue that combining and recombining available resources is a key dimension of jugaad. Thus, it is useful to clarify the ways jugaad appears to be both similar to and different from current descriptions of bricolage. Namely, jugaad comprises more than the behavior of bricolage—it also includes an attitudinal and an experiential dimension. Indeed, in adverse environments, bricolage requires that individuals question or disregard preconceived constraints (Baker & Nelson, 2005; Senyard et al., 2014). Thus, it stands to reason that individuals who challenge established rules and constraints (i.e., the statusquo) are seen by others and themselves as having an attitude of assertive defiance. With jugaad, the behavior of combining and recombining at-hand resources and the attitude of assertive defiance are mutually reinforcing. Therefore, future research at the individual level of analysis can explore whether the assertive defiance dimension of jugaad also underlies bricolage. Furthermore, jugaad appears to be more social than current conceptualizations of bricolage. In our study, the social aspect of jugaad was evident in the jugaadus’ desires to help others by providing solutions to their problems, positively impact other businesses, enhancing interpersonal learning, and facilitating connections to aid others’ jugaad. Thus, in resource-poor rural India, a context characterized by adversity, jugaad is driven by and has social (including prosocial) implications.

Organizations that provide developmental support and non-governmental organizations, such as the NIF, aim to promote innovation—namely creative solutions that can be converted into competitive products or services to contribute to firm growth. For the reasons outlined throughout this chapter, these organizations have realized that jugaad leads to poor results in developing commercially viable products. However, the findings from our study imply that jugaad solutions should be evaluated in terms of their contributions to inclusivegrowth as opposed to firm growth. Thus, we encourage these organizations to consider redirecting their efforts toward helping individuals focus on local social problems and develop jugaad solutions that help themselves, other firms, and community members without requiring them to also generate commercially viable products or services. Indeed, the jugaadus in this study were eager to help others through their creative endeavors and mentor and teach others. Thus, while jugaad has minimal (if any) impact on firm growth, government, and non-governmental organizations have the chance to promote jugaad by encouraging locals to develop creative solutions to local problems with the limited resources at hand, which can, in turn, result in positive, although often under-appreciated, outcomes.

Accordingly, we recommend that these government and non-governmental organizations expand their notion of what characterizes successful creative solutions to problems to incorporate dimensions of inclusivegrowth and avoid devaluing (or stigmatizing) people who engage in jugaad because these individuals contribute to their communities in important ways. These organizations can even promote and legitimize jugaad by sharing stories of how jugaadus have solved local problems in their communities with limited means. By celebrating individuals’ jugaad solutions in this way, organizations can build a culture founded on understanding others’ problems, acting to generate solutions to these problems, and creating a stronger sense of community. More generally, focusing on how jugaad solutions support inclusive growth could also increase expectations that other innovations (including commercializable products and services) should also contribute to inclusive growth.

Moreover, research has discussed governments’ attempts to “force” Western organizations to contribute to community development in India by mandating larger companies to engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities (under the Company Act 2013) (McWilliams & Siegel, 2001). In particular, Western organizations in India must legally invest 2% of their profits in CSR activities to support the country’s development, which means that Western companies are substantial investors in CSR in India. As such, our findings could have an important implication by highlighting the potential of a new type of CSR program focusing on individuals who engage jugaad to improve local conditions for their communities. These organizations’ financial and business knowledge could serve as a new set of “at-hand” resources for jugaad and/or provide a foundation for creative problem-solving processes resulting in commercializable outcomes. If CSR can facilitate “local” creative problem solving, investments in such programs could help India (and the communities therein) benefit more from jugaad by enabling individuals to develop disruptive innovations that directly or indirectly help overcome poverty and improve people’s living conditions. On the other side of this scenario, by interacting more with people who engage in jugaad, large Western organizations can learn more about being innovative and creative with limited resources. While beyond the scope of our study, we expect that most companies would be very interested in learningabout frugalinnovation as they confront increased competition and shrinking research and development budgets.


Due to the pervasiveness of and the adversity from poverty and the barriers outsiders face to solve this problem, understanding how locals can operate in their environments to change them has become critical. This chapter highlights that jugaad is one way for locals to creatively solve problems in resource-poor environments. Our findings and inducted jugaad model shed light on the nature, mechanisms, and dual impact(inclusivegrowth versus competitive growth) of jugaad as a creative problem-solving process under resource scarcity, thereby providing a basis for understanding creative problem solving in resource-poor environments in general and jugaad in rural India more specifically.