Frugal innovations are about creating “affordable excellence”, which might seem like a contradiction to many. Heart surgeries for less than 1,500 euros and a Mars mission for less than one-fourth of the production costs of a science fiction movie are good examples of frugal innovations. Owing to ongoing globalisation and high growth in rapidly emerging economies like India and China, “frugal innovations” are receiving increasing interest from academia and practice. Such innovations “seek to create attractive value propositions for their targeted customer groups by focusing on core functionalities and thus minimizing the use of material and financial resources in the complete value chain. They substantially reduce the cost of usage and/or ownership while fulfilling or even exceeding prescribed quality standards” (Tiwari et al, 2016).
To readers not familiar with the topic and scholars influenced by paradigms like Porter’s established differentiation vs. cost reduction strategies this “doing more with less” approach may seem counter-intuitive. And indeed, developing frugal innovations is not an easy task. Scholars are beginning to explore and understand the phenomenon. However, so far, no complete framework exhaustively describes how such a challenging “frugal innovation process” is organized and successfully implemented. One piece in this puzzle is the right “mindset” for such projects. What characterizes “frugal innovators”? Do they share a certain mindset and how can this mindset be defined? To what extend do e.g. national cultures and corporate socialization influence the ability to come up with frugal solutions?
The theoretical foundations have been established in a completed research project. Based on this framework of the frugal mindset in Western MNCs two thesis research projects will be conducted:
- Validation of the concept based on qualitative research
- Design of quantitative study including pre-test of the design
Aim of the thesis & suggested methodology:
The aim of the two thesis projects (master thesis, 6 months) is to develop an advanced understanding of the concept of frugal innovation and the “frugal innovator”. In doing so, you will acquire expert knowledge in the area of frugal innovation and hands on knowledge about frugal innovation projects. Depending on the topic of your choice, you will also advance your understanding of either qualitative or quantitative research techniques.
Start and further reading:
As from now on.
Tiwari, R., Fischer, L., & Kalogerakis, K. (2017). Frugal innovation in Germany: A qualitative analysis of potential socio-economic impacts (No. 96). Working Paper, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Institute for Technology and Innovation Management.
Soni, P., & T. Krishnan, R. (2014). Frugal innovation: aligning theory, practice, and public policy. Journal of Indian Business Research, 6(1), 29-47.
Student of TUHH, enrolled in IWI, MEM, GIM or related Master’s courses.
Interested in either qualitative or quantitative research.
Please send your request including academic record and CV by e-mail to: