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Government and grassroots innovation

Nair, Anup Karath and MacKay, David (2012) Government and grassroots innovation. In: Academy of Management Conference, 2012-08-03 - 2012-08-08.

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Prior research has highlighted institutional deficiencies which have limited the role of the poor in the formal economy. Micro-innovation has been proposed as a remedial mechanism by which localised socio-economic impact can be generated by those constrained by institutional voids. This paper seeks to contribute to understanding of how micro-innovation might deliver such impact and how, if at all, Government might nurture this form of activity. To do so, we utilise the nascent grassroots innovation perspective. Grassroots innovation is a form of micro-innovation where a knowledge rich but economically impoverished innovator creates social and economic value through innovation bricolage (‘making do’). By exploring the emergence of 16 grassroots innovations in India, we inductively develop a model of grassroots innovation practice. Cross case analysis reveals five key emergent themes which potentially impact the social and economic value of grassroots innovations. Drawing on these themes, we analyse the effectiveness of government intervention in the cases of the grassroots innovators observed. We suggest that government can play a useful role in fostering micro-innovation activities but equally, there are limitations to the scope of such intervention which might be overcome by engaging with the private sector.