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Track 3.3 - Frugal Innovation in the Age of Digital Transformation

Rajnish TIWARI, Dr.,Hamburg University of Technology
Cornelius HERSTATT, Prof. Dr.,Hamburg University of Technology
Gerrit DE WAAL, Dr., RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia)
Christian LE BAS, Prof. Dr., Lyon University (Lyon, France)
Fumikazu MORIMURA, Prof. Dr., Kobe University (Kobe, Japan)
Aravind CHINCHURE, Prof. Dr., Symbiosis International University (Pune, India)

Track's Contacts :


In a short span, the concept of frugal innovation has gained considerable acceptance in the scholarly community (Tiwari, Kalogerakis, and Herstatt, 2016; Lim and Fujimoto, forthcoming). They can be broadly defined as products, services, technologies and business models that target “affordable excellence” while minimizing use of resources (Le Bas, 2016; Weyrauch and Herstatt, 2016). Frugal innovations have become increasingly important for ensuring long-term competitiveness of firms in both, emerging market economies and industrialized nations, as current research suggests (Radjou and Prabhu, 2015; Kroll, Gabriel, Braun et al, 2016). In addition, they may be considered as a very useful and important tool in meeting the global sustainable development goals (SDGs), for example by providing affordable access to healthcare and ensuring food security (Chavali and Ramji, 2018; De Waal, Tiwari, and McMurray, 2018).

Nevertheless, the advancement of the scholarly discourse has also brought to fore several new research issues that need attention of the research community. These emerging research issues include, but are not limited to, the following:

• What sectors are especially promising for frugal products and services?
• What determinants are leading the acceptance for frugal products and services in societies that are NOT characterized by extreme resource constraints?
• How can digital transformation contribute to the development of innovative frugal solutions and their diffusion?
• In what ways can frugal innovations lead to a positive impact on ecological sustainability and what limitations must be taken into account?
• Can frugal innovation act as a counter measure to the phenomenon of planned obsolescence?
• What policy measures may be required to mitigate the potential impact of rebound effects?
• What dimensions of affordability (e.g. monetary, societal and environmental) must be addressed by firms while creating frugal solutions?
• What is the role of open global innovation networks in creating frugal technologies?
• In what ways do frugal and social innovations overlap each other?

The special track is conceptualized as a multidisciplinary track that will seek contributions from a variety of sources and welcome papers with both conceptual and empirical focus. The idea is to start a new (next-level) discourse on the phenomenon of frugal innovation and organize a special issue (e.g. of R&D Management) on this theme. We will invite papers from researchers from management sciences, economics as well as from engineering disciplines with the purpose of generating new insights by transdisciplinary integration of relevant themes. We envisage several contributions from R&D-intensive disciplines such as Healthcare, Nanotechnologies that lead to affordable and ecologically sustainable excellence.


Chavali, A. K. and R. Ramji, Eds. (2018): Frugal Innovation in Bioengineering for the Detection of Infectious Diseases, Cham, Springer.
De Waal, G., R. Tiwari, and A. McMurray (2018): Resource-Constrained Innovation: A Viable Strategy for Firms in the Australian Food Processing Industry?, Governance and Sustainability Conference, Melbourne, RMIT University.
Kroll, H., M. Gabriel, A. Braun, E. Muller, et al, Eds. (2016): A Conceptual Analysis of Foundations, Trends and Relevant Potentials in the Field of Frugal Innovation (for Europe), Interim Report for the Project "Study on frugal innovation and reengineering of traditional techniques" Commissioned to Fraunhofer ISI and Nesta, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission, Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union.
Le Bas, C. (2016): "Frugal innovation, sustainable innovation, reverse innovation: why do they look alike? Why are they different?," Journal of Innovation Economics & Management 21(3): 9-26.
Lim, C. and T. Fujimoto (forthcoming): "Frugal innovation and design changes expanding the cost-performance frontier: A Schumpeterian approach," Research Policy https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2018.10.014.
Radjou, N. and J. Prabhu (2015): Frugal Innovation: How to do more with less, London, The Economist.
Tiwari, R., K. Kalogerakis, and C. Herstatt (2016): Frugal Innovations in the mirror of scholarly discourse: Tracing theoretical basis and antecedents, R&D Management Conference, Cambridge, UK.
Weyrauch, T. and C. Herstatt (2016): "What is frugal innovation? Three defining criteria," Journal of Frugal Innovation 2(1): DOI 10.1186/s40669-40016-40005-y.