Reviewing a Decade of Research on the 'Base/Bottom of the Pyramid' (BOP) Concept

Business & Society, Forthcoming, doi 10.1177/0007650312474928

36 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2012 Last revised: 3 Jan 2013

See all articles by Ans Kolk

Ans Kolk

University of Amsterdam Business School

Miguel Rivera-Santos

Babson College

Carlos R. Rufin

Babson College - Management Division

Date Written: December 26, 2012


In 1998-1999, Prahalad and colleagues introduced the Base/Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) concept in an article and a working paper. This article’s goal is to answer the question: What has become of the concept over the decade following its first systematic exposition in 1999? To answer this question, the authors conducted a systematic review of articles on the BOP, identifying 104 articles published in journals or proceedings over a ten-year period (2000-2009). This count excludes books, chapters, and teaching cases. The review shows that the BOP concept evolved dramatically following Prahalad’s original call to multinational enterprises (MNEs). De-emphasizing the role of MNEs over time, published BOP articles portray a more complex picture, with wide variations in terms of BOP contexts, of BOP initiatives, and of impacts of the BOP approach. A simple framework for organizing the reviewed articles helps discuss findings, identify the gaps that still exist in the literature, and suggest directions for future research.

Keywords: Base of the Pyramid, Bottom of the Pyramid, poverty, development, multinational enterprises, BOP

JEL Classification: D21, F23, I31, I32, I39, L21, L31, L33, M1, M13, M14, O17, O19

Suggested Citation

Kolk, Ans and Rivera-Santos, Miguel and Rufin, Carlos, Reviewing a Decade of Research on the 'Base/Bottom of the Pyramid' (BOP) Concept (December 26, 2012). Business & Society, Forthcoming, doi 10.1177/0007650312474928, Available at SSRN:

Ans Kolk (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam Business School ( email )

Plantage Muidergracht 12
Amsterdam, 1018 TV
+31 20 525 4289 (Phone)
+31 20 525 5281 (Fax)


Miguel Rivera-Santos

Babson College ( email )

Babson Park, MA 02157
United States
781-239-5325 (Phone)

Carlos Rufin

Babson College - Management Division ( email )

Babson Park, MA 02457
United States
781-239-6411 (Phone)
781-239-5272 (Fax)

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