Original Articles

Jugaad to grassroot innovations: understanding the landscape of the informal sector innovations in India

DOI: 10.1080/20421338.2014.895481
Author(s): Hemant KumarCentre for Studies in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, India, Saradindu BhaduriCentre for Studies in Science Policy, India


Ironically, the phenomenal growth in the academic literature on innovation in recent years has omitted the innovative activities in the informal sector. There is no doubt that the informal sector occupies a key position in the economic activities of many of today's developing and emerging economies. In fact, the so called ‘new view’ on the informal sector posits the activities of this sector in an optimistic manner, emphasising its role in providing wider access to goods and services. However, what lies behind their sustained competitive edge has remained unexplored. The key objective of the paper is to analyse the concepts of jugaad'' and grassroot innovations, the two most popular terms in the context of informal sector innovation in India, examine the nature of innovative efforts they embody, and the socio-economic values generated by these activities. This research is exploratory in nature and we mostly use qualitative data for our analysis. Such an analysis, we argue, will help us better appreciate the complexities of the informal sector in the Indian economy and open new vistas to understand innovative behaviour.

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