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Publication - Professor Richard Owen

    Framing resource-constrained innovation at the 'bottom of the pyramid'

    Insights from an ethnographic case study in rural Bangladesh


    Pansera, M & Owen, R, 2015, ‘Framing resource-constrained innovation at the 'bottom of the pyramid': Insights from an ethnographic case study in rural Bangladesh’. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol 92., pp. 300-311


    Resource constrained-innovation (RCI) at the so-called 'bottom of the pyramid' (BOP) in developing countries has attracted the attention of a growing number of scholars, who present different and sometimes conflicting narratives within which such innovation is framed. These variously frame innovation as supporting the opening up of new markets in the BOP (the 'poor as consumers') where multi-national companies are key actors, or grassroots, indigenous innovation aimed primarily at social and environmental goals, such as inclusion, empowerment and sustainability. We present the results of an ethnographic study in rural Bangladesh in which we explored the framing and dynamics of RCI. We found that rather than following any one particular narrative presented in the literature, innovation framings merge and co-exist through a process of hybridisation. Our research suggests that further empirical study of such processes of hybridisation in the field could be valuable for understanding RCI and associated social change at the BOP. This may have broader relevance for a world where resource constraint may become an increasingly ubiquitous phenomenon.

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