Habilitation colloquium of Dr. Rajnish Tiwari on the theme of “Digital Transformation as Enabler of Affordable Excellence”

On June 30, 2020 there was a Habilitation colloquium of Dr. Rajnish Tiwari that marked the successful completion of his Habilitation (“venia legendi”). The colloquium was on the theme of “Digital Transformation as Enabler of Affordable Excellence”. The presentation showed how digital technologies can help achieve frugal solutions that in turn enable affordable excellence.

Abstract of the presentation

Latest since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic the potential of digital technologies as enabler of high-quality-yet-affordable solutions has become clear. Nevertheless, reports suggest that many firms struggle with implementing digital transformation due to the (perceived) need for high investments. Moreover, the true (potential) value-add of digital transformation is not clear to many, as digital transformation is often associated with complex terms such as “Industry 4.0”, “Internet of Things” or “Smart Homes”, whose true value-add is either not obvious to non-experts, or whose value-add is rather perceived in “nice-yet-superfluous” things such as a refrigerator which can autonomously re-order groceries. Thus, the cost-benefit analysis apparently does not seem to justify the requisite investments in many an instance. Continue reading

Opportunities of Frugality in the Post-Corona Era

A discussion paper by Cornelius Herstatt and Rajnish Tiwari on the opportunities of frugality-based approaches in the post-Corona era: How frugal innovations can help achieve “affordable green excellence” in a world that could do with more effective use of resources. They argue that the concept of “affordability” has to be considered more comprehensively and in a multidimensional perspective – not just financially, but also socially, infrastructurally and ecologically.

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The world is undergoing a major societal upheaval. Probably for the first time in the human history large parts of economic activity have come to a standstill simultaneously in almost all parts of the world – affecting the economically advanced nations as much as the developing countries. The “lockdown”, a term not known by many prior to the Corona pandemic of 2020, has meant that populations have been (in some cases literally) forced to stay back at home, cut down on their social contacts due to fear of a community transmission of the COVID19 virus, and as a result international and even domestic and local travel has largely come to a halt.

SARS-CoV-2. Image: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM / Public domain

Economic activity has been severally affected in most nations and many people have either lost jobs or have had to reduce their working hours, negatively impacting their disposable income. While, understandably, there is a growing demand for restoring “normalcy”, there are also voices that warn against returning to the “old normal” as if nothing has happened that requires a serious reflection. These voices plead for utilizing the current crisis to develop a “new normal” by utilizing its opportunities, e.g. the unintended-yet-largely-positive environmental impact and the slowing down of the pace of life resulting in reduced stress levels for people who are in a position to better manage social and economic impact of the pandemic.

This discussion paper makes a plea for a more holistic reflection over the causes and effects of the several other urgent challenges facing the world that have been laid bare by COVID19, e.g. climate change, poverty, and diseases. In this current context, we take a closer look at frugal innovations, a concept that has grown in importance over the previous decade and has been known to enable affordable access to goods and services. We examine if and how frugal innovations can be used to develop a “new normal” that acts as an enabler of “affordable green excellence”.

Taking a normative approach, we propose that affordability should be defined in a much more comprehensive manner to includes monetary, societal, infrastructural and environmental affordability. Further, a much closer interaction to the principles of circular economy is proposed. The overlap of frugal innovations and circular economy is the ideal space that should be strived by societal stakeholders, as products that target high environmental affordability without paying enough attention to monetary, societal and infrastructural affordability are as likely to face challenges as are products that are affordable monetarily and in other terms but whose environmental fit is questionable. Policy makers are called upon to create enabling mechanisms to promote affordable green excellence that is required in the post-Corona world even more than it already was prior to the pandemic outbreak.

Note: This discussion paper documents initial ideas with the intention of advancing research on “affordable green excellence”. We invite comments, feedbacks and ideas for collaborative transdisciplinary research/projects from interested colleagues from academia, industry, policy-making institutions and other domains, such as foundations and non-government organizations.

Featured publication: “Made in India for the World”

Made in India for the World: An Empirical Investigation into Novelty and Nature of Innovations

Authors: Daniel Tobias Hagenau, Rajnish Tiwari

Abstract: After an initial introduction into the areas of innovations within emerging markets, the study develops a consistent innovation typology for categorizing large data samples from a variety of existing literature. It then describes and finally evaluates a sample of 178 innovations for the Indian market based on 38 different criteria. It uses internet-based news reports over a 2 year timeframe for the study sample.

TLead Market Indiahe study’s results show a considerable amount of radical innovations and innovations with disruptive potential among the sample and a special concentration on small- and micro-sized innovators from India. It confirms previous suggestions that India is especially focused on innovations within the software and electronics engineering sectors. The results also support the importance of local knowledge and ‘social capital’ for successful disruptive innovation. Finally, a perceivable increase in the technology orientation of innovations by foreign companies suggests a continuous build-up of local technology-competence and foreign trust in the same.

A focus on local competencies and the leading position of India concerning innovative distribution are among the managerial implication of the study. It also opens numerous avenues for future research, expanding both depth and scale of the database as well as the analysis underlying this study.

[Check the publisher’s version]

[Read the unedited, authors’ version]

Keywords: Frugal Innovation; India; Innovation Typology; Disruptive Innovation; Local Competencies 

Suggested citation: Hagenau D.T., Tiwari R. (2017) Made in India for the World: An Empirical Investigation into Novelty and Nature of Innovations. In: Herstatt C., Tiwari R. (eds) Lead Market India. India Studies in Business and Economics. P. 163-192, Springer, Cham

The featured publications series

With this article, CFI is introducing a new series of “featured publications” with the intention to share its select contributions to the social and scholarly discourse with the broad community. Some of these article have been published in mediums that are not freely available to the public. In such cases, we will seek to provide access to unedited, authors’ versions of the publications, wherever feasible.

Guest lecture on frugal innovation at TU Graz

Prof. Dr. Christian Ramsauer (l.) with Prof. Dr. Cornelius Herstatt (r). Photo: IIM.

Prof. Dr. Christian Ramsauer (l.) with Prof. Dr. Cornelius Herstatt (r). Photo: IIM.

Prof. Dr. Cornelius Herstatt was invited to deliver a guest lecture on the theme of frugal innovation at the Institute of Innovation and Industrial Management (IIM) of TU Graz (Graz University of Technology). He was hosted by Prof. Dr. Christian Ramsauer, director of IIM. The audience was an interdisciplinary group of Master students from various faculties. Prof. Herstatt spoke about the increasingly-apparent global need for frugal innovations in both developing and the industrialized world. Furthermore, he showcased an example about how frugal innovation projects can be technologically and organizationally implemented in a multinational company in the settings of economically-developed nations. The results were based on a recent project of CFI with a large international manufacturer of machine and tools industry.

This was the second time Prof. Herstatt visited TU Graz to speak on frugal innovations. There is a growing interest of the Austrian industry in this topic and both institutes (CFI@TIM/TUHH and IIM@TU Graz) intend to collaborate in research, teaching and advising companies.

CFI investigates potential relevance of frugal innovations for Austria

Austrian Council

CFI has initiated a project to investigate the potential relevance of frugal innovations for Austria in cooperation with the Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development. The project seeks to examine the potential relevance of innovative products, services, processes and technologies aimed at achieving “affordable excellence” for Austrian enterprises in the backdrop of shifting centers of economic growth, changes in consumer behavior, global societal challenges and last-but-not-least the increasing resource-constraints.

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