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User-driven innovation with frugal characteristics. A Multi-Case Analysis of China’s Innovation-Driven

: Kroll, Henning; Liefner, Ingo


Agarwal, Nivedita (Ed.):
Frugal innovation and its implementation : Leveraging Constraints to Drive Innovations on a Global Scale
Cham: Springer Nature, 2021 (Contributions to Management Science)
ISBN: 978-3-030-67118-1 (Print)
ISBN: 978-3-030-67119-8 (Online)
ISBN: 978-3-030-67120-4
ISBN: 978-3-030-67121-1
Book Article
Fraunhofer ISI ()
China; user-innovation; low-cost; Frugal innovation

This paper emphasises the continued and renewed relevance of user-driven, frugal innovation for economic development in China, thus challenging the increasingly prevalent, technology-centred approach to explaining local economic growth in that country. Taking up inspirations from other emerging economies’ discourses, it demonstrates that business models aimed at innovation for mid- to low-income markets continue to play a role for China. Acknowledging that “frugal innovation” as such is not a common term in China to date, it underlines that three fundamental elements of frugal activities are indeed very vividly present in China and deserve further attention. First, the awareness for and ability to designing focused, user-oriented solutions in unorthodox ways, second, the ability to leverage and network distributed capacity outside of the nation’s geographic centres of innovation and, third, ability to explore new models of collaborative innovation that reach beyond corporate boundaries. Furthermore, it highlights that, nowadays, digital technologies enable novel approaches to matching different types of innovation supply and demand at various levels throughout the country.