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Innovation for the base of the pyramid: Critical perspectives from development studies on heterogeneity and participation

Innovation for the base of the pyramid: Critical perspectives from development studies on heterogeneity and participation

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Published by Jenny M. Melo
This article criticises current BoP approaches for under-appreciating two issues that play vital roles in projects targeting the poor at the BoP: heterogeneity among the poor, and the intricacies of participatory partnerships between TNCs, the non-profit sector (NGOs) and local poor communities in the global south. Our main contention is that the extant BoP literature has a naïve view of what working with the poor really involves, which grossly underestimates adverse power relationships and disregards the hierarchies between the poor and outsiders who administer development interventions. To unpack the hidden complexities associated with heterogeneity and
partnership dynamics, we draw on extensive knowledge from the field of development studies, which has accumulated key insights about working in and with poorer communities over several decades.
This article criticises current BoP approaches for under-appreciating two issues that play vital roles in projects targeting the poor at the BoP: heterogeneity among the poor, and the intricacies of participatory partnerships between TNCs, the non-profit sector (NGOs) and local poor communities in the global south. Our main contention is that the extant BoP literature has a naïve view of what working with the poor really involves, which grossly underestimates adverse power relationships and disregards the hierarchies between the poor and outsiders who administer development interventions. To unpack the hidden complexities associated with heterogeneity and
partnership dynamics, we draw on extensive knowledge from the field of development studies, which has accumulated key insights about working in and with poorer communities over several decades.

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Published by: Jenny M. Melo on Apr 05, 2010
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05/18/2011

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#2009-036
Innovation for the base of the pyramid:Critical perspectives from development studies on heterogeneity andparticipation
Saurabh Arora and Henny Romijn
Working Paper Series
United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and social Research and training centre on Innovation and TechnologyKeizer Karelplein 19, 6211 TC Maastricht, The NetherlandsTel: (31) (43) 388 4400, Fax: (31) (43) 388 4499, e-mail: info@merit.unu.edu, URL:http://www.merit.unu.edu 
 
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Innovation for the base of the pyramid:Critical perspectives from development studies onheterogeneity and participation
Saurabh Arora and Henny RomijnSchool of Innovation SciencesEindhoven University of Technology s.arora@tue.nl
 
;ha.aromijn@tue.nl 
 Abstract
 This article criticises current BoP approaches for under-appreciating two issues that play  vital roles in projects targeting the poor at the BoP: heterogeneity among the poor, and theintricacies of participatory partnerships between TNCs, the non-profit sector (NGOs) and localpoor communities in the global south. Our main contention is that the extant BoP literature has anaïve view of what working with the poor really involves, which grossly underestimates adversepower relationships and disregards the hierarchies between the poor and outsiders who administerdevelopment interventions. To unpack the hidden complexities associated with heterogeneity andpartnership dynamics, we draw on extensive knowledge from the field of development studies, which has accumulated key insights about working in and with poorer communities over severaldecades.Keywords: innovation and development, participation, poverty alleviation, TNCs JEL codes: I30, M14, O19, O31, O32, Z10
UNU-MERIT Working Papers
ISSN 1871-9872Maastricht Economic and social Research and training centre on Innovation and Technology,
 
UNU-MERIT
 
UNU-MERIT Working Papers intend to disseminate preliminary results of research carried  out at the Centre to stimulate discussion on the issues raised.

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