Frugal Innovation: Learning from Social Entrepreneurs in India

The Guardian - Public Leaders Network, March 2012

49 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2012

See all articles by Ashish Gambhir

Ashish Gambhir

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Shalabh Singh

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Stephen Duckworth

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Alexis Sotiropoulos

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: March 20, 2012

Abstract

Over the last 60 years, innovation and improvements in India's public services have frequently emerged in the absence of state intervention or involvement. Social enterprises have stepped in to address the challenges where the government has failed. As a consequence, radical new perspectives have developed that might not have emerged if governments had imposed top-down initiatives adopted from the West.

"Frugal Innovation" is the idiom applied to this sweeping revolution in public service design and delivery. The term is used in India and other developing economies to describe innovation that minimises costs by creating frugal solutions to deliver improved or previously non-existent public services. Frugal innovation has given more people access to a wider range of services.

This paper provides insights into how solutions developed from the bottom-up in some of the most challenging public service environments can better meet the needs of citizens. It investigates a range of new perspectives applied to services by over 40 social enterprises in India. It challenges the notion that uniformity in delivering public services driven by a top-down centralist ideology translates into good value for money.

Keywords: India, social enterprise, frugal, innovation, Serco

Suggested Citation

Gambhir, Ashish and Singh, Shalabh and Duckworth, Stephen and Sotiropoulos, Alexis, Frugal Innovation: Learning from Social Entrepreneurs in India (March 20, 2012). The Guardian - Public Leaders Network, March 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2026330

Ashish Gambhir (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Shalabh Singh

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Stephen Duckworth

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Alexis Sotiropoulos

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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