How Can ‘Frugal Innovation’ Be Conceptualized?

26 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2013

See all articles by Yasser Ahmad Bhatti

Yasser Ahmad Bhatti

Imperial College London

Marc Ventresca

Government of the United States of America - Naval Postgraduate School

Date Written: January 19, 2013


Although the concept of frugal innovation is gaining popularity in both practitioner and academic discourse, there is no theoretically embedded definition and there exist few if any conceptual models to base future research on. We fulfil both gaps by analyzing the concept of ‘frugality’ and ‘innovation’ separately first and then jointly around two perspectives – historical and current – together which reveal a theoretically embedded definition and conceptual models of ‘frugal innovation’. We use a historical perspective to show that while the terminology is new, the core idea behind frugal innovation is not new. Subsequently however through a current perspective we show how it has gained renewed interest in both emerging countries as well as developed ones. We offer suggestions for future research along these conceptual models and layout implications to research and practice.

Keywords: innovation, resource scarcity, institutional voids, constraints, affordability, frugal, cost, emerging markets

Suggested Citation

Bhatti, Yasser Ahmad and Ventresca, Marc, How Can ‘Frugal Innovation’ Be Conceptualized? (January 19, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Yasser Ahmad Bhatti (Contact Author)

Imperial College London ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London, Greater London SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom


Marc Ventresca

Government of the United States of America - Naval Postgraduate School ( email )

1 University Circle
Monterey, CA 93943-5001
United States

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