When Participatory Research and Business Strategy Collide: Lessons from Base-of-Pyramid ventures
Base-of-Pyramid ventures must be designed with the intimate involvement of all stakeholders to ensure that the designs meet their needs and use preferences and contribute to a self-determined improvement of livelihoods and agency. Participatory research engages community members in identifying their problems, articulating their context and resources and developing effective, affordable, appropriate and sustainable solutions. The research aspect is crucial to developing the product, business model, implementation strategy and scale-up strategy. Participation in the research endeavor can lead to expectations and ownership, which, although desirable, have the potential to negatively impact the success of the venture and limit its scalability. Simultaneously, the information inaccuracies that owe their genesis to the expectations built by the venture can compromise the validity and integrity of the research endeavor. This paper explores the tensions and conflicts that arise on integrated research and entrepreneurship ventures in developing country contexts.
Andrea Grzybowski recently received her Master's degree in International Affairs from The Pennsylvania State University. Her concentrations are sustainable development and entrepreneurship in developing markets. Andrea is involved in the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program at Penn State, focusing on environmentally and socially responsible development for rural communities. She was recently awarded the HESE Fellowship, and is currently spending six months in Kenya... Read More →
Blair Mathias recently graduated with her Master of International Affairs degree from Penn State's School of International Affairs. Following an adolescence spent between Pennsylvania and Hawaii, she attended Bucknell University, where she graduated cum laude with a BA in both International Relations and Spanish. Blair is dedicated to applying her education to positively impact the lives of others and has spent time on humanitarian projects in Vietnam and Nicaragua and studied in Spain and... Read More →
Khanjan Mehta is the Director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program at Penn State University. His professional interests include innovative system integration, high-tech entrepreneurship and international social entrepreneurship. Khanjan loves connecting concepts, people, computers and devices. A basic philosophy behind his work is the convergence of disciplines, concepts, cultures, and countries to create a freer, friendlier, fairer and more sustainable... Read More →
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