Comparing frugality and inclusion in innovation for development: logic, process and outcome

Authors: Onsongo, E., and Knorringa, P.

Article in Journal: Innovation and Development;

Publication Date: 22 Sep 2020


This paper sheds light on two main concepts applied to innovation for development: frugal innovation and inclusive innovation. Researchers often conflate these concepts when classifying or characterizing innovative endeavours in developing contexts. We argue, however, that these concepts are fundamentally different based on their philosophical orientations or logics, i.e. frugality versus social inclusion, their respective innovation processes and outcomes.

Based on an in-depth literature review, we develop a typology that outlines these differences. We show that an inclusive innovation lens accentuates the participation of marginalized actors and poverty reduction, while a frugal innovation lens highlights product design processes, business model innovation and resource use. Conceptual clarity on these differences has implications for how we characterize innovation in developing contexts in the academic, practitioner and policy spheres.

Keywords: Inclusive innovation, social inclusion, frugal innovation, frugality, development


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