Most Indian organizations operate within the technological frontier and focus on lowering costs, sometimes through frugal innovation or jugaad, to meet the constrained affordability of Indian consumers. Process and organizational innovations abound more than product or supply chain management innovations. Foreign multinationals, the major contributor of patents in India, appear to be uninhibited by the current state of the IP protection regime, although this has deficiencies in enforcement. A new noteworthy trend is the rise of startups that hold promise as a source of product and business model innovations. Our analysis of the (limited) extant literature indicates a general dearth of empirical research on this topic, relative to work on China; as such, there is scope for further research.
This paper offers a perspective on innovation in India by both Indian and foreign companies. Using an inward‐outward lens, we conclude that while many Indian organizations have been the source of myriad process and incremental – as well as frugal – innovations that have cumulatively created value for companies and consumers, much of this has happened within the technological frontier and has been focused on lowering costs to meet the constrained affordability of Indian consumers (inward lens). At the same time, foreign multinationals have played an important role in initiating patent‐creating R&D activity, mostly for global products (outward lens). Spillovers from these entities have, in part, fueled the emergent rise of startups, many of which are pursuing product innovation and, in some instances, frugal innovation.