Developing Frugal Innovations with Inventive Analogies: Preliminary Evidence from Innovations in India

  • Rajnish Tiwari
  • Katharina Kalogerakis
  • Cornelius Herstatt
Part of the India Studies in Business and Economics book series (ISBE)


Frugal products and services generally, though not exclusively, aim at satisfying the unsaturated demand of a large and growing middle class in emerging economies such as India. Although research has been conducted in regard to the strategic importance of frugal innovations, so far, there is a lack of in-depth research on the actual development process of such innovations. Some examples show that inventive analogies are used to develop frugal innovations. For instance, the development of a frugal artificial heart in India was based on the heart structure of cockroaches, which led to a reduction of costs by 20 times.

The aim of this paper is to examine the use of inventive analogies in creating frugal solutions and their impact on project results. Based on three explorative case studies from India, we generate preliminary evidence that analogies can make a significant impact on the successful development of innovations in environments that are characterized by severe resource constraints and high price-sensitivity. Furthermore, the inherent aim of frugal innovations to create radically new solutions with very restricted resources seems to stimulate the application of inventive analogies. The results point to some valuable learnings in regard to an effective employment of analogies. Besides, useful insights for companies that want to exploit market opportunities in the emerging economies are generated.


Frugal innovation India Inventive analogies Resource constraints Case studies 


Note and Acknowledgement

This paper was presented at the R&D Management Conference 2014 (June 3–6, Stuttgart, Germany) under the original title “Frugal innovation and analogies: some propositions for product development in emerging economies”. Rajnish Tiwari would like to sincerely thank Claussen Simon Foundation for supporting his research at TUHH with a generous grant.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rajnish Tiwari
    • 1
  • Katharina Kalogerakis
    • 1
  • Cornelius Herstatt
    • 1
  1. 1.Hamburg University of TechnologyHamburgGermany

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