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Exploring frugal innovation and reverse innovation in Saudi Arabia: a case study

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Saudi Arabia is in the process of developing a broader base for the economy, which for many years has been reliant on oil and gas, non-renewable fossil fuels which are reaching their end. However, the country has many other natural resources, and one of the major companies in the “non-oil” economy is the Saudi Ceramic Company (SCC). In recent decades Saudi Arabian companies, including SCC, have begun to accept the need for innovation if they are to sell their products to a wider market and to increase exports. Of particular interest to companies in Saudi Arabia are Frugal Innovation and Reverse Innovation. This thesis examines the relationship between these two forms of innovation, and the ways in which they have been accepted by the water-heater division of SCC and their supply chain. Three levels of management (Macro – Directors and Academic advisors directors who contribute to economic and business policy development within the SCC water-heater division, Meso – Senior Management of the manufacturing division within the SCC, and Micro – The Organisational Managers of production and supply, along the local supply chain.) were interviewed about their understanding of the terms and the application in their experience. A total of 18 interviews, each lasting 45-60 min were carried out, 5 at the Macro level, 5 at the Meso level, and 8 at the Micro level. It was found that, although culturally resistant to innovation and change, Saudi Arabian businesses found Frugal Innovation and Reverse Innovation acceptable, and indeed essential, if the planned economic expansion is to continue. By analysing their views regarding the drivers and barriers to Frugal Innovation and Reverse Innovation, the research project has been able to formulate a framework for F&R Innovation which may be useful for companies in other developing economies attempting to expand their exports back to the developed countries. Throughout there was also found to be an underlying need for sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
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Award dateJul 2019

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