Call for Papers for a Special Issue of the Journal of Product Innovation Management.

“Innovation in Emerging Economies”

Co-Guest editors: G Athaide, SP Raj, & J Sheth

Deadline: 31 March 2024

Emerging economies have become fertile markets for innovation – both from necessity and from pent-up aspirations and creativity. As examples, thanks to significant growth in their GDPs, India and China have large segments of middle-class consumers with tremendous purchasing power and rising ambitions. Furthermore, emerging economies differ from developed markets on several fundamental dimensions such as culture, income distribution, and infrastructure. Therefore, innovations that take such contextual characteristics into account are more likely to be successful. For example, organizational cultures of domestic firms compared to multinationals provide diverse opportunities as well as challenges regarding approaches to innovation. Similarly, although India has a large population of about 1.4 billion, there are wide disparities in income distribution; also, a majority of the population lives in rural areas that can be hard to reach. This presents opportunities to innovate to surmount challenges with respect to developing affordable and accessible products and services. Similarly, opportunities to innovate and the approaches to innovation are likely to offer unique challenges in other emerging economies in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.

In emerging economies where the population skews toward “base of the pyramid” consumers, “frugal” innovations, i.e., innovations that are affordable, increase the odds of success. Given resource constraints, bricolage capabilities are relevant to developing such innovations. Besides frugal product innovations, succeeding in emerging economies requires innovations in other areas of marketing such as packaging, promotions, and distribution. For example, innovations in channel management and last mile delivery are necessitated by the poor infrastructure which makes it difficult to reach customers in rural areas. The academic study of such innovations has been sparse in leading journals.

Another area that merits increased research attention is “reverse innovation” wherein innovations developed in emerging economies are subsequently offered in developed economies. In fact, there is evidence of such “reverse innovation” occurring in several sectors like agriculture, automotive, and health care. Three underlying drivers are likely to accelerate the rate of reverse innovation: technological leapfrogging, digital transformation, and environmental sustainability. As some emerging economies have skipped generations of technology, e.g., bypassing landline phones in favor of cell phones and smart phones, they can develop innovations that are not encumbered by legacy systems. In some instances, as consumers and firms push the boundaries, these innovations are technologically ahead of offerings in developed countries thus opening up opportunities for reverse innovation. Also, as digital transformation technologies expand geographical scope, e.g., global ordering and delivery via online platforms, local innovations can now be offered globally. Finally, innovations to improve environmental sustainability may find global market opportunities to benefit advanced economies as well as other emerging economies.

Collectively, these perspectives suggest that emerging economy innovation offers a rich and fertile area for greater scholarly inquiry. We aim to extend the scope of innovation attention given by scholars to developing economies and to focus intellectual attention to an emerging area of scholarly enquiry.

Specific Focus of the Special Issue (Suggested Research Topics and Issues):

For the purpose of this special issue, we define innovation broadly to encompass new product and service development and marketing innovations, digital transformation technologies that facilitate increased process efficiency and enhanced customer experiences.

Relevant contextual settings include sectors such as consumer products, financial services, food and agriculture, government, healthcare, industrial products, infrastructure, not-for-profit, retail, services, technology-based products, and so forth.

With respect to “emerging economies,” we include all countries categorized as “developing economies” by the U.N.

We are primarily interested in research that examines new questions, investigates new phenomena, or uses new methods to expand what we know and makes a contribution to the field of emerging economy innovation based on theory building, empirical research or methodological advancements; the articles noted below are examples of such prior research.

The range of issues that may be studied is broad; they may be examined through diverse lenses such as management, marketing, organizational behavior, public policy, or strategic perspectives.

Accordingly, the following research issues are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive.
  Conceptual frameworks and research agendas as well as empirical studies related to frugal, sustainable, or reverse innovations.
  Determinants of innovation adoption, resistance, and diffusion in emerging markets.
  The role of organizational cultures in emerging economy innovation.
  Development of requisite organizational capabilities that address the critical technology andresource gaps needed for emerging economy innovation.
  The impact of digital transformation technologies on emerging economy innovation.
 Strategies and processes for “middle of the pyramid” innovations compared to those for “base of the pyramid” innovations.
 Strategic considerations involved in managing the tradeoffs between marketing and product innovations in emerging markets.
 The relevance of public policies and public-private partnerships in emerging market innovations.

Questions pertaining to the special issue should be directed to one of the editors:,, or

Submission Deadlines and Anticipated Publication Timeline Milestone
Submission deadline: March 31, 2024
First round decisions: June 30, 2024
Mini-conference for authors with invited revisions (hybrid): Sept. – Oct., 2024
Revision due: December 31, 2024
Second round decisions: March 31, 2025
Second revision due: June 30, 2025
Final editorial decisions: August 31, 2025
Anticipated publication: Winter 2025