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Generating Preliminary Propositions on the

Role of Culture in Frugal Innovations

[Background] [Objectives] [Proposed Methodology] [Relevant Readings]

A project of:

Project team: Rajnish Tiwari and Mithun Kumaar Jayavarthanavelu

Start: October 2015

Proposed duration: Three months

Project status: Completed (Jan. 2016)

Keywords: Frugal Innovation; Innovation Path; Innovation Trajectories; Cultural Dimensions, Innovation Culture

Schlüsselwörter: Frugale Innovation; Innovationspfade; Kulturdimensionen, Innovationskultur

Key findings: A significant connection could not be established between frugal innovations and the national culture, especially as the data sample of 150 identified frugal innovations was dominated by one single country, i.e. India (71 innovations). However, it seems likely that factors such as a lower level of uncertainty avoidance increase the likelihood of firms in a given nation introducing frugal innovations. (Feb. 2016)



Many known examples of frugal innovations come from the developing nations, especially from the high-growth economies of India and China (Tiwari and Herstatt, 2012). This is not a surprise given the fact that necessity is considered to be the mother of invention, and the resource-scarcity in "poorer" yet growing societies can provide a fertile socio-economic ground for innovating frugally.

Nevertheless, frugal innovations some times are also reported from the industrialized world in the global "North". Moreover, culture is known to play a role in how societies respond to the forces of nature and to given socio-economic conditions, giving rise to innovations (or, sometimes, to the lack thereof). It therefore seems intriguing to examine the dimesnions of culture (Hofstede, 2003) in countries reported to be producing frugal innovations and to assess whether there is some common ground, e.g. in terms of their uncertainty avoidance, or their approach to individuality/collectivity.


The objective of the present study is to generate some preliminary insights on the role of culture, and more sprecifically the role of the individual dimensions of culture, in creating frugal innovations. The study seeks to do the following:

  • Generate a systematic overview of examples of frugal innovations
  • Create an overview of the countries from where these innovations are reported
  • Create a cultural profile of all identified countries based on the Hofstede model of national culture
  • Analysis of the individual dimensions of culture to find recurring/interesting patterns, if any

Proposed Methodology

The study relies basically on desk research of academic literature and business press to create a database of frugal innovations. cultural profiles of the relevant countries will be created using the data published by Prof. Hofstede.

Relevant Readings

  • Hofstede, G. (2003): Culture's Consequences : Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations across Nations, 2nd edition, Thousand Oaks.
  • Tiwari, R. and Herstatt, C. (2012): Assessing India's lead market potential for cost‐effective innovations, Journal of Indian Business Research, 4(2): 97-115.

[ For any enquiries, please contact Rajnish Tiwari ]

Important notice: Research proposals containing project description generally depict initial ideas submitted by students in response to a call for project initiated by the RPGI team. Even though the proposals are cross-checked and edited by the RPGI team before putting them in the public domain, no guarantees can be taken at this stage of the quality and/or other aspects of good academic practices. Their adherence is, however, duly examined when students submit their reports, and prior to any publication of the report.