Frugal Digital Innovation: An Exploratory Study in Emerging and Developed Economies
This dissertation provides the foundation for a research program in frugal digital innovation. "Frugal Digital Innovation” is a specific form of frugal innovation digital technologies play a pivotal role in enabling firm-level capabilities to overcome challenges of resource-constrained business environments. Frugal digital innovation is centered on development of products/services with a sharp focus on affordability, simplicity, and sustainability. The dissertation is rooted in two contexts – with case studies conducted in both an emerging economy (India) and a developed economy (Canada). This dissertation is among the first to theoretically and empirically confirm the presence of resource constraints and institutional voids, in certain Canadian contexts, that are similar to but less severe than those found in emerging markets. Moreover, the dissertation highlights how firms in both contexts negotiate such constraints and voids by developing frugal IT innovation capability (FITIC), which builds on business, technology, and social innovation capabilities. A digital ecodynamics perspective which focuses on the fusion of firm-level capabilities, the challenges of the ecosystem that the firm operates in, and underlying digital systems and technologies was used to examine how FITIC drives firm performance. Using affordance theory, theory of corporate frugality, and the dynamic capabilities perspective, a research framework was developed and the role of digital platforms, SMACIT technologies, and other socio-economic factors was also examined. As the world struggles to find innovative solutions to societal issues such as healthcare, education, poverty, and hunger, this research highlights digital strategies and capabilities that firms can develop to improve their financial, social, and sustainability performance. The dissertation discusses ecosystem-wide implications and contributes to advancement of both theoretical and practice-based knowledge. The research provides fertile ground to extend affordance theory and dynamic capabilities perspective by applying it in a frugal context while making theoretical linkages among constraints, affordances, and dynamic capabilities. It also provides insights to practitioners regarding the development of low-cost and high impact digital innovation capabilities.
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