Bottom (base) of the Pyramid concept has a long history. The term was first coined by the US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a radio address in 1932. However the concept was popularized in the business literature by C.K. Prahalad much more recently. Since then, study of BoP has captured attention of practitioners and scholars alike (Gollakota, Gupta, and Bork, 2010, Karamchandani, Kubzansky and Lalwani, 2011; Olsen and Boxenbaum, 2009); and four approaches have emerged for strategizing about the BoP.
Fortune Finding: Prahalad and Hamel (1990) underlined the scale of the world population not included in the global markets, and the potential of fortune-finding by catering to the common needs of this poorest population, by providing low-cost products and extending distribution reach.
Fortune Creating: London and Hart (2011) postulate that the next generation of BoP business strategies require a shift to “fortune creating” with the four billion consumers, producers, and entrepreneurs who make up the poorest population of the world, so that viable and scale ventures may be designed.
Fortune Sharing: Some social entrepreneurship scholars based in the industrialized markets contend the need for the corporations to approach the BoP with a corporate social responsibility mindset, and commit to sharing their wealth with the BoP, rather than seeking to create wealth off or through the BoP (Berkman, 2010; Davidson, 2009).
Fortune Stealing: Some social activists based in the emerging markets maintain that the multinational corporations have been all too enthusiastic to take off with the technological fortune that belongs to the communities in which the poor people have lived for generations, without giving any credit or compensation (for example, see Shiva, 2011).
Besides understanding and contrasting these approaches, there is also a need to re-examine the concept of the Base of the Pyramid. While in economic terms, the world’s low-income communities may be at the Base of the Pyramid, in human terms, many low-income communities are known for their hospitality and helping spirit and thus perhaps could be at the Top of the Pyramid (Gupta, 2011; Leisinger, 2007; Rashid and Rahman, 2009). In the informal economy of these communities, the concrete local social context of the humans may matter more than the abstract global economic context of the corporations. Thus, as we democratize and decentralize the discourse by giving voice to the “BoP” communities that have been disconnected from the mainstream global markets, there may be a need to reframe our language.
We propose the concept of Extensional Technological Growth (ETG) as a heuristic for strategies involving the disconnected communities. We observe that a flip side of the weak linkages of the low-income communities with the global markets has been the preservation of the uniqueness of the technological base of the people in these communities (Gupta, 2008). This people’s technological base is generally locally efficient, relying on the complementarity of the locally available and distributed resources (Cooke, 2006). In several nations, efforts are beginning to be made to connect alternative and diverse technological bases across multiple community groups and construct innovative, scalable, and disproportionately proficient technological base (Gupta, 2011). These efforts have a potential to generate extensional technological growth (ETG), connecting beyond the mainstream boundaries and channels for augmenting technological capabilities.
Issues related to disconnected communities are particularly relevant for emerging economies of South Asia , where 25% of the population currently lives under poverty levels. As South Asia is estimated to provide 30-32% of the increment to the world population into 2050 (World Bank, 2011), as per the traditional understanding of BoP, there is going to be even a greater expansion of the BoP in the region (Khilji, 2011). For the special issue of the South Asian Journal of Global Business Research, we invite papers situated in or inspired by the South Asian context, and that explore theoretical and empirical aspects of topics such as:
1) Could there be alternative approaches to BoP as popularized by Prahalad? What would the theoretical and practical underpinnings of these approaches?
2) Is economic wealth really the right perspective to define the base in the BoP? What other perspectives could be used?
3) How do we engage these disconnected and forgotten communities and what can we learn from them? What approaches, strategies and practices are emerging from these communities that would further our understanding of leadership, management, innovation etc.? 4) Can social learning and critical theory (and other theories) be used to explain possible strengths of the BoP?
5) How to improve the ETG ecosystem- nonprofits forming alliances with business vs. nonprofits as mediators between business and people groups;
6) How to develop the ETG market – seeding and base-building for marketing to the BoP vs. manufacturing for low cost in the BoP vs. pursing ETG with the BoP;
7) How to leverage the ETG for global markets – green leap of small footprint innovations designed for the BoP vs. buyback of green solutions designed using ETG know-how for the global markets;
8) How to account for the ETG -- corporate social charity given to the BoP (cost-center) vs. sustainable distributed gain sharing with those contributing to ETG (profit center);
9) How to fund the ETG business ventures – philanthro-captialists offering patient capital to the central actors vs. microcredit federations offering fast circulation capital to decentralized actors;
10) Two sides of the ETG entrepreneurship – promoting consumption through marketing initiatives vs. promoting investment through multiplex linkages in the low-income communities
11) How to design the ETG ventures – for economies of scale through connectivity with the global economic context vs. for economies of choice through sensitivity to the local social context.
We are hoping to use a new lens on the BoP in order to allow us to be more creative and think differently, hence we encourage submissions beyond these questions, as long as these contribute to advancing research, policy and practice related to BoP and ETG. We welcome submission from all business or related disciplines, and are open to multi-disciplinary approaches.
Abstracts (3 pages) should be submitted by December 15, 2011 to any one of the following guest editors. Authors of the selected abstracts will be invited to participate in a symposium proposal under the auspices of the South Asian Academy of Management on the topic for the Academy of Management Conference 2012 at Boston, whose theme is “Informal Economy”.
ull Paper deadline (8000 words) via Scholar One to SAJGBR: March 30, 2012. After screening by the special issue editors, these papers will be double blind reviewed before being accepted for publication.
Anticipated Publication date: Sept 2012
About the Special Issue Editors:
Vipin Gupta (Ph.D., Wharton School) is Professor and Co-director of the Global Management Center at the California State University San Bernardino. He has made significant contributions to the science of culture, sustainable strategic management in the emerging markets, managing organizational and technological transformations, and entrepreneurial and women’s leadership, and is a pioneer in the field of culturally sensitive models of family business around the world. He has authored or edited 16 books, including the seminal GLOBE book on culture and leadership in 62 societies, eleven on family business models in different cultural regions, two on organizational performance, one on the MNCs in China, and an innovative strategy textbook. He has published about one hundred fifty articles as book chapters and in academic journals, such as the Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of World Business, Family Business Review, International Journal of Cross-cultural Management, and Asia-Pacific Journal of Management, among others. Dr. Gupta has been a Japan Foundation fellow, and a recipient of the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychologists’ coveted “Scott M. Myers Award for Applied Research—2005”.
Shaista E. Khilji (PhD, Cambridge University, UK) is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of South Asian Journal of Global Business Research (SAJGBR), and Associate Professor of Human and Organizational Learning at the George Washington University (Washington DC). Her research focuses on issues related to Global Leadership, Talent Development, Innovation, and Cross-Cultural Management with a particular emphasis on emerging economies. She has published several articles in reputable scholarly journals, including the International Journal of Human Resource Management, Journal of World Business, and the Journal of Product Innovation Management, contributed to edited volumes and presented more than 40 research papers at various international conferences. She has received several awards, including “Honorary Lifetime Fellow of Cambridge Commonwealth Society” (UK); “Pride of Profession Award” (India); the “Outstanding Service” and “Best Reviewer” awards by the Academy of Management (USA), “Top 10%” paper award by the Academy of International Business (Italy), and a “Bronze Award” by McGraw Hill Higher Education. She was nominated for the Washingtonian “Rising Star under 40 years” for her all-round academic achievements, “Best International Symposium’ and “Newman’ awards by Academy of Management.
About the South Asian Journal of Global Business Research (SAJGBR):
South Asian Journal of Global Business Research (SAJGBR) is dedicated to advancing theoretical and empirical knowledge of business and management issues facing multinational and local organizations within South Asia. It publishes high-quality research articles, insights and reviews which contribute to the scholarly and managerial understanding of contemporary South Asian business issues. SAJGBR is committed to providing a unified platform to publish research that links research communities in South Asia with the rest of the world.
SAJGBR publishes both conceptual and empirical papers that address a variety of business issues within South Asia, in order to inform and advance international business theory and practice. All papers must be based upon rigorous quantitative and/or qualitative methodological approaches. SAJGBR is also open to creative reviews and insights from a variety of people engaged in international business, including policy makers, consultants, practitioners and managers.
South Asian Journal of Global Business Research is a publication of Emerald Publications. For more information, please refer to http://www.emeraldinsight.com/products/journals/journals.htm?id=sajgbr
Berkman, J. (July 9, 2010), “Millions of Hungry Families Are Not a ‘Market Opportunity’”, available at: http://news.change.org/stories/millions-of-hungry-families-are-not-a-market-opportunity.
Cooke, P. (2006), “Global bioregional networks: a new economic geography of bioscientific knowledge”, European Planning Studies, Vol. 14, pp. 1265–1285.
Davidson, K. (2009), “Ethical concerns at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Where CSR meets BOP”, Journal of International Business Ethics, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 22-32.
Gollakota, K., Gupta, V., and Bork, J. (2010), “Reaching customers at the base of the pyramid – a two-stage business strategy”, Thunderbird International Business Review, Vol. 52 No. 5, pp. 355-367.
Gupta, A.K. (2011), Various articles and blogs, available at: http://www.sristi.org/anilg/anilgblog.php
Gupta, V, (2008), “Constructing a sustainable technological platform in India”, Vidwat: The Indian Journal of Management, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 1-8.
Karamchandani, A., Kubzansky, M., and Lalwani, N. (2011), “Is the Bottom of the Pyramid really for you”? Harvard Business Review, Vol. 89 No. 3, pp. 107-111.
Khilji, S.E. (2011), Population 7 billion and counting: How it would affect us all. Panel talk presented at GW Alumni Weekend celebration, The George Washington University, Washington DC, USA
Leisinger, K. M. (2007), “Corporate Philanthropy: The ‘Top of the Pyramid’”, Business & Society Review, Vol. 112 No. 3, pp. 315-342.
Olsen, M., and Boxenbaum, E. (2009), “Bottom-of-the-Pyramid: Organizational barriers to implementation”, California Management Review, Vol. 51 No. 4, pp. 100-125.
Rashid, A. T., and Rahman, M. (2009), “Making profit to solve development problems: the case of Telenor AS and the Village Phone Programme in Bangladesh”, Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 25 No. 9/10, pp. 1049-1060.
Shiva, V. (2011), “Navdanya International”, available at: http://www.vandanashiva.org/