Implications of Frugal Innovations on Sustainable Development: Evaluating Water and Energy Innovations

20 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2015

See all articles by Jarkko Levänen

Jarkko Levänen

Aalto University - School of Business

Mokter Hossain

The Manchester University

Tatu Lyytinen

Aalto University - School of Business

Anne Hyvärinen

Aalto University - School of Engineering

Sini Numminen

Aalto University - School of Science

Minna Halme

Aalto University - School of Business

Date Written: December 22, 2015

Abstract

Frugal innovations are often associated with sustainable development. These connections, however, are based on anecdotal assumptions rather than empirical evidence. This article evaluates the sustainability of four frugal innovations from water and energy sectors. For the purposes of the evaluation, a set of indicators was developed. Indicators are drawn from sustainable development goals by the United Nations and they encompass central dimensions of sustainability: ecological, social and economic. In this article, frugal innovations are compared to solutions that are currently used in similar low-income contexts. Studied frugal innovations were found more sustainable in terms of energy production and water purification capacity than the existing solutions. In terms of social sustainability, larger differences between innovations were found. For example, business models of frugal energy solutions focus on capacity building and the inclusion of marginalized low-income people, whereas business models of water purification solutions focus on more traditional corporate social responsibility activities, such as marketing awareness campaigns and cooperation with non-governmental organizations. Three major sustainability challenges for frugal innovators were identified: (1) the proper integration of material efficiency into product or service systems; (2) the patient promotion of inclusive employment; and (3) the promotion of inclusive and sustainable local industrialization. The article concludes that despite indisputable similarities between frugality and sustainability, it is problematic to equate the two conceptually.

Keywords: frugal innovation; SDG; evaluation; indicators; water; energy

Suggested Citation

Levänen, Jarkko and Hossain, Mokter and Lyytinen, Tatu and Hyvärinen, Anne and Numminen, Sini and Halme, Minna, Implications of Frugal Innovations on Sustainable Development: Evaluating Water and Energy Innovations (December 22, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2707070 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2707070

Jarkko Levänen

Aalto University - School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
AALTO, FI-00076
Finland

Mokter Hossain

The Manchester University ( email )

Aalborg
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.linkedin.com/in/mokter-hossain-phd-9445a524/

Tatu Lyytinen

Aalto University - School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
AALTO, FI-00076
Finland

Anne Hyvärinen

Aalto University - School of Engineering ( email )

PO BOX 14100
Aalto 00076
Finland

Sini Numminen

Aalto University - School of Science ( email )

Otakaari 1
Espoo, FI-00076
Finland

Minna Halme (Contact Author)

Aalto University - School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
AALTO, FI-00076
Finland

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
50
Abstract Views
349
PlumX Metrics