Balancing the Scales: Appropriate Technology and Social Entrepreneurship



Challengers made a model of social entrepreneurship that served as an appropriate technology niche for creating novel technological innovations. Aravind Eye Care System (India) developed an innovative model of social entrepreneurship: the Robin Hood model. This model involves multiple revenue streams from income generating activities (i.e., multi-tier patient fee schedule and ophthalmic consumables) and donations. Profits are then reinvested into the organization which provides eye health care to low-income patients for free or a heavily subsidized rate. With this model of social entrepreneurship, there is some rapprochement between the decentralized governance of Gandhian philosophy of science and technology with the economic liberal decentralization of neoliberal capitalism advocated by Schumpeter.


Social Entrepreneurship Niche Technology Gandhian Philosophy Aravind Venkataswamy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Alter, Sutia Kim. 2003. “Social Enterprise: A Typology of the Field Contextualized in Latin America.” Inter-American Development Bank.
  2. Anonymous. 1996. “History of Lionism in India.” GVERI Resources Collection Box No. ORG-20. Govindappa Venkataswamy Eye Research Institute, Aravind Eye Care System, Madurai.Google Scholar
  3. Aravind E-News. 2017. Aravind E-News, October.
  4. Aravind Eye Care System. 2010. “Aravind Eye Care System Activity Report 2009–2010.” Annual Report. Madurai, Tamil Nadu: Aravind Eye Care System.
  5. ———. 2015. “Aravind Eye Care System Activity Report 2014–2015.” Annual Report. Madurai, Tamil Nadu: Aravind Eye Care System.
  6. Arnold, David. 2000a. Gandhi. 1st ed. Harlow: Longman.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2000b. Science, Technology, and Medicine in Colonial India. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bandarage, Asoka. 2013. “The Buddha’s Middle Path: Lessons for Sustainability and Global Well-Being.” Development 56 (2): 232–40.Google Scholar
  9. Bhatt, V. V. 1982. “Development Problem, Strategy, and Technology Choice: Sarvodaya and Socialist Approaches in India.” Economic Development and Cultural Change 31 (1): 85.Google Scholar
  10. Bowman, Andrew. 2011. “Mass Production or Production by the Masses? Tractors, Cooperatives, and the Politics of Rural Development in Post-Independence Zambia.” The Journal of African History 52 (2): 201–21.Google Scholar
  11. Cheru, Fantu. 1997. “The Silent Revolution and the Weapons of the Weak: Transformation and Innovation from Below.” In Innovation and Transformation in International Studies, edited by James H. Mittelman and Stephen Gill, 153–69. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Coleman, Kate. 2011. “Proof of Sustainable Eye Care Systems in Africa, the Only Way to V2020.” Unite For Sight 2011 Global Health & Innovation Conference, Yale University, New Haven, CT. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  13. Datta, P. T. Jyothi. 2014. “Far-Sighted: Aravind Eye Care to Set up Hospital in Nigeria.” The Hindu Business Line, January 20.
  14. Diwan, Romesh. 1987. “Mahatma Gandhi and the Economics of Non-Exploitation.” International Journal of Social Economics 14(2): 39–52.Google Scholar
  15. Forgia, Gerard La, and Somil Nagpal. 2012. Government-Sponsored Health Insurance in India: Are You Covered? The World Bank. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
  16. Foucault, Michel. 2008. The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the College de France, 19781979. Edited by Michel Senellart. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  17. Geels, Frank W. 2002. “Technological Transitions as Evolutionary Reconfiguration Processes: A Multi-level Perspective and a Case-Study.” Research Policy, NELSON + WINTER + 20, 31 (8–9): 1257–74.Google Scholar
  18. ———. 2005a. “Conceptual Perspective on Systems Innovations and Technological Transitions.” In Technological Transitions and System Innovations: A Co-evolutionary and Socio-Technical Analysis, 75–102. Cheltenham and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 2005b. “The Dynamics of Transitions in Socio-Technical Systems: A Multi-level Analysis of the Transition Pathway from Horse-Drawn Carriages to Automobiles (1860–1930).” Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 17 (4): 445–76.Google Scholar
  20. ———. 2005c. “Processes and Patterns in Transitions and System Innovations: Refining the Co-evolutionary Multi-level Perspective.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Transitions towards Sustainability through System Innovation, 72 (6): 681–96.Google Scholar
  21. ———. 2007. “Analysing the Breakthrough of Rock ‘n’ Roll (1930–1970) Multi-regime Interaction and Reconfiguration in the Multi-level Perspective.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change 74 (8): 1411–31.Google Scholar
  22. Geels, Frank W., and Johan Schot. 2007. “Typology of Sociotechnical Transition Pathways.” Research Policy 36 (3): 399–417.Google Scholar
  23. Grosfoguel, Ramón, and Ana Margarita Cervantes-Rodríguez, eds. 2002. The Modern/Colonial/Capitalist World-System in the Twentieth Century: Global Processes, Antisystemic Movements, and the Geopolitics of Knowledge. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  24. Hård, Mikael. 1993. “Beyond Harmony and Consensus: A Social Conflict Approach to Technology.” Science, Technology & Human Values 18 (4): 408–32.Google Scholar
  25. Harsh, Matthew, Paul Mbatia, and Wesley Shrum. 2010. “Accountability and Inaction: NGOs and Resource Lodging in Development.” Development and Change 41 (2): 253–78.Google Scholar
  26. Harvey, David. 2005. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Hess, David J. 2005. “Technology- and Product-oriented Movements: Approximating Social Movement Studies and Science and Technology Studies.” Science, Technology & Human Values 30 (4): 515–35.Google Scholar
  28. Hess, David J. 2016. Undone Science: Social Movements, Mobilized Publics, and Industrial Transitions. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hwami, Munyaradzi. 2016. “Frantz Fanon and the Problematic of Decolonization: Perspectives on Zimbabwe.” African Identities 14 (1): 19–37.Google Scholar
  30. Jalali, Rita. 2008. “International Funding of NGOs in India: Bringing the State Back In.” Voluntas 19 (2): 161–88.Google Scholar
  31. Johns, Alan W. 1992. “The Role of International Non-governmental Organisations in Dealing with Cataract Blindness in Developing Countries.” Documenta Ophthalmologica 81 (3): 345–48.Google Scholar
  32. Joshee, Reva. 2012. “Challenging neoliberalism through Gandhian trusteeship.” Critical Studies in Education 53 (1): 71–82.Google Scholar
  33. Kaplinsky, Raphael. 1990. “The Institutional Framework of Appropriate Technology (AT) Development and Diffusion: Brick Manufacture in Three African Countries.” In The Economies of Small: Appropriate Technology in a Changing World, 74–103. Rugby, Warwickshire: Practical Action Publishing.Google Scholar
  34. ———. 2011. “Schumacher Meets Schumpeter: Appropriate Technology below the Radar.” Research Policy 40 (2): 193–203.Google Scholar
  35. Keller, Helen. 1925. Helen Keller’s Speech at 1925 International Convention. Cedar Point, Ohio: Lions Clubs International. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  36. Kleinman, Daniel Lee. 1998. “Untangling Context: Understanding a University Laboratory in the Commercial World.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 23 (3): 285–314.Google Scholar
  37. Kumar, S. Vijay. 2014. “Aravind Eye Hospital Plans 700-Bed Facility in Chennai.” The Hindu, February 2.
  38. Lingam, Lakshmi. 2013. “Development Theories and Community Development Practice: Trajectory of Changes.” In The Handbook of Community Practice, edited by Marie Weil, Michael Reisch, and Mary Ohmer, 195–214. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  39. Lions Clubs International Foundation. 2011. “LCIF Sight and Blindness Programs.” Retrieved November 5, 2012.
  40. Mahadevan, Ashok. 2007. “Miracles by the Thousands.” Reader’s Digest, January, 3–9.Google Scholar
  41. Manikutty, Sankaran, and Neharika Vohra. 2004. Aravind Eye Care System: Giving Them the Most Precious Gift. Ahmedabad: Indian Institute of Management.Google Scholar
  42. Mehta, Pavithra K., and Suchitra Shenoy. 2011. Infinite Vision: How Aravind Became the World’s Greatest Business Case for Compassion. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.Google Scholar
  43. Monroe-White, Thema. 2014. “Creating Public Value: An Examination of Technological Social Enterprise.” In Emerging Research Directions in Social Entrepreneurship, edited by Larry Pate and Charles Wankel, 85–109. Advances in Business Ethics Research 5. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  44. Natchiar, G., and Tulika D. Kar. 2000. “Manual Small Incision Sutureless Cataract Surgery—An Alternative Technique to Instrumental Phacoemulsification.” Operative Techniques in Cataract and Refractive Surgery 3 (4): 161–70.Google Scholar
  45. Natchiar, G., A. L. Robin, R. D. Thulasiraj, and S. Krishnaswamy. 1994. “Attacking the Backlog of India’s Curable Blind: The Aravind Eye Hospital Model.” Archives of Ophthalmology 112 (7): 987–93.Google Scholar
  46. Natchiar, G. N., R. D. Thulasiraj, A. D. Negrel, Shrikant Bangdiwala, Raheem Rahmathallah, N. Venkatesh Prajna, Leon B. Ellwein, and Carl Kupfer. 1998. “The Madurai Intraocular Lens Study I: A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Complications and Vision Outcomes of Intracapsular Cataract Extraction and Extracapsular Cataract Extraction with Posterior Chamber Intraocular Lens.” American Journal of Ophthalmology 125 (1): 1–13.Google Scholar
  47. Ninan, Anup S. 2009. “Gandhi’s Technoscience: Sustainability and Technology as Themes of Politics.” Sustainable Development 17 (3): 183–96.Google Scholar
  48. Ojha, Arvind. 2013. “The Journey of Indian Civil Society: From the Gandhian Movement to Contemporary NGOs.” Department of History, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.Google Scholar
  49. Ouaissa, Rachid. 2015. “Frantz Fanon: The Empowerment of the Periphery.” Middle East—Topics & Arguments 5: 100–106.Google Scholar
  50. Piore, Michael J., and Charles F. Sabel. 1984. The Second Industrial Divide: Possibilities for Prosperity. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  51. Rosenberg, Tina. 2013. “A Hospital Network with a Vision.” The New York Times Opinion Pages—Opinionator. Retrieved April 16, 2013
  52. Rubin, Harriet. 2001. “The Perfect Vision of Dr. V.” Fast Company, January 31. Retrieved May 1, 2009.
  53. Schumacher, Ernst F. 1973. Small Is Beautiful: Economics as If People Mattered. London: Blond & Briggs.Google Scholar
  54. Seelos, Christian. 2014. “Theorising and Strategising with Models: Generative Models of Social Enterprises.” International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing 6 (1): 6–21.Google Scholar
  55. Seyfang, Gill, and Adrian Smith. 2007. “Grassroots Innovations for Sustainable Development: Towards a New Research and Policy Agenda.” Environmental Politics 16(4):584–603.Google Scholar
  56. Shrum, Wesley. 2000. “Science and Story in Development: The Emergence of Non-governmental Organizations in Agricultural Research.” Social Studies of Science 30 (1): 95–124.Google Scholar
  57. Smith, Adrian. 2002. “Transforming Technological Regimes for Sustainable Development: A Role for Appropriate Technology Niches?” SPRU Working Paper Series 86, University of Sussex, Brighton.
  58. ———. 2007. “Translating Sustainabilities between Green Niches and Socio-Technical Regimes.” Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 19 (4): 427–50.Google Scholar
  59. Smith, Adrian, and Rob Raven. 2012. “What Is Protective Space? Reconsidering Niches in Transitions to Sustainability.” Research Policy, Special Section on Sustainability Transitions 41 (6): 1025–36.Google Scholar
  60. Tabin, Geoffrey. 2007. “The Cataract Blindness Challenge Innovations Case Discussion: Aravind Eye Care System.” Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization 2 (4): 53–57.Google Scholar
  61. TedIndia. 2009. Thulasiraj Ravilla: How Low-Cost Eye Care Can Be World-Class. | Video on TED.Com. India: TED Conferences LLC. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  62. Tidrick, Kathryn. 2006. Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life. London: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  63. Venkataswamy, Govindappa. 1992. “Spiritual Consciousness and Healing: An Interview with Govindappa Venkataswamy.” By Missy Daniel. Second Opinion 18 (1): 68–81.Google Scholar
  64. Virmani, Arundhati, and François Lépineux. 2016. “Aravind Eye Care System as Transformational Entrepreneurship: Spiritual Roots, Multi-dimensional Impact.” Philosophy of Management 15 (1): 83–94.Google Scholar
  65. Williams, Logan D. A. 2017. “Getting Undone Technology Done: Global Techno-Assemblage and the Value Chain of Invention.” Science, Technology and Society 22 (1): 38–58.Google Scholar
  66. Willoughby, Kelvin W. 1990. Technology Choice: A Critique of the Appropriate Technology Movement. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  67. Ydstie, John. 2011. “India Eye Care Center Finds Middle Way to Capitalism.” All Things Considered, NPR.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Logan Williams Consultancy Services, LLCCumberlandUSA

Personalised recommendations