Local Innovation: What it is and why it matters for developing economies | NDIR Working Paper 01

Local Innovation: What it is and why it matters for developing economies
Local Innovation: What it is and why it matters for developing economies

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ABSTRACT

There is a nascent but growing body of work on innovation in community-based settings, including what is termed grassroots innovation, jugaad innovation, user-driven innovation, and autonomous innovation. This paper examines a related concept, that of local innovation—the creation of new and improved ways of doing things compared to existing practice within a specific local context. Drawing on existing literature and three years of qualitative interviewing and case study research into local innovation processes in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, we find promising early evidence of the value of local innovation to developing economies, and particularly to the localities where this innovation is taking place. We find that the innovations emerging from these processes create meaningful livelihood impacts for their users and that, more significantly, the act of innovating contributes to building and strengthening a set of system capacities which are essential for local economic development.