The Many Facets of Frugality: Insights from a Quasi-comprehensive Literature Survey


Frugal innovation has become a popular research agenda in the field of Innovation studies. Frugality, however, has been part of the intellectual tradition for centuries and scholarly giants such as Cicero, Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin, David Hume have deliberated upon its meanings, nuances and applications. The present study using quantitative text mining approaches supplemented by qualitative methods aims at a detailed exposition of these deliberations to Gauge the complexity of the term, and its implications for the modern-day production and innovation processes. We used the Google’ N-gram tool for qualitative text analysis. Subsequently, using the time series graph of N-gram we spot the relevant periods of the key narratives, and related documents, for a deeper scrutiny. This literature survey helps us recalibrate the concept of frugality, within innovation and technology discourse, to provide a philosophical underpinning, going beyond a strict criteria-oriented approach to define the concept of frugality. The study facilitates reimagining the process of innovation. Drifting away from the present (excessive) emphases on growth, mechanization and protocolization, a recalibrated concept of frugality nudges us to formulate a more human centered process of technological innovation. 

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