Call For Papers: Resource Constrained Product Development and Frugal Engineering

IEEE Transactions on


Special Issue: Resource Constrained Product Development and Frugal Engineering

Guest Editors

Rian Beise-Zee, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan,

Cornelius Herstatt, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Germany (

Rajnish Tiwari, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Germany (


Engineering in emerging markets in general, and in smaller companies in particular, often takes place in extremely resource-constrained environments. Companies in emerging markets innovate with very limited inputs, because of the scarcity of resources or because innovated products/services must be affordable to a less affluent population (B2C) or business customers (B2B). Frugal product designs are reminiscent of Ford’s Model T that revolutionized the modern industry by focusing on low-cost product design and manufacturing processes while ensuring adherence to relevant safety and regulatory standards (“affordable excellence”). The past several years have seen significant interest in frugal innovations that allow large sections of globally under-served people to afford such products and services or to gain access to them. Examples of such innovations include GE’s portable E   CG device MACi created for the Indian market or the small commercial vehicle (SCV) Tata Ace.

Scholars have so far generally concentrated on the (geographic) relevance and business propositions of frugal innovations. The broader question about actual product development under extreme resource-constraints (“frugal engineering”) has received comparatively less attention. Product development in resource-constrained contexts often does not allow large investments in engineering and R&D. For example, the development costs of the commercially successful SCV, Tata Ace, were reported to be one-tenth of the typical cost for a new vehicle platform. Such cases of frugal innovation development contribute to a better understanding of how R&D under extreme resource-constraints can deliver successful and affordable solutions.

Frugal engineering describes a process-oriented approach to reduce inherent development costs and time while increasing efficiency. Essentially, frugal engineering is innovating with very limited resources including manhours, materials, knowledge, institutions, suppliers and time. Frugal engineering process has been characterized as a process that reconsiders the typical new product development process and reflects on the specific use and infrastructural context and local availability of resources while questioning existing organizational and technological path-dependencies. Useful tools in the frugal engineering process include contradiction-oriented product design, design thinking, innovative analogies, value engineering and target costing. These tools are often supplemented with innovation strategies that reduce the project risk and costs such as Open Innovation.

Markets with low purchasing power especially in emerging markets and the so-called Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) markets are the most obvious, but not the only contexts that require low-cost engineering products and processes. In many emerging markets, innovators cannot rely on a first class R&D infrastructure, but must economize on various inputs. The need for frugal engineering emerges also in small and medium-sized companies and in areas in which it is either not profitable or profits cannot be appropriated freely by the innovating company such as in healthcare, education, space, defense or housing. The crises in healthcare in ageing societies drives healthcare providers to develop economically viable frugal technologies, especially where a high-throughput health care diagnostics and delivery is envisioned. Time-to-market can be the biggest constraint as well, when, for instance, new vaccines are created. Niche markets can profit from frugal engineering as well, such as drug development for rare diseases that lack a viable business model for big pharma.

The special issue aims to publish a high-quality collection of work in the emerging area of resource-constrained product and service development to provide an assessment of the current state of the art, identify opportunities for future research, and promote community-building

among researchers. Resource-constrained R&D practices and related applications are welcome. Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Practices and processes, conceptualizations and principles of resource-constrained engineering
  • Engineering and product development in the emerging markets and least-developed countries
  • Product development and engineering practices in small and medium-sized firms in industries with low R&D-intensity
  • New Technologies in resource-constrained product development and engineering
  • Innovations in enterprises with a large role of the public sector such as space, housing and healthcare

Submission Process: Please prepare the manuscript according to IEEE-TEM’s guidelines ( )and submit to the journal’s Manuscript Central site ( Please clearly state in the cover letter that the submission is for this special issue.


Interested authors send abstracts by January 31st 2019

Decisions on acceptance of abstracts by April 30th 2019

Papers submitted by October 31st 2019


Baker, T. and R. E. Nelson (2005). “Creating Something from Nothing: Resource Construction through Entrepreneurial Bricolage.” Administrative Science Quarterly 50(3): 329-366.

Gibbert, M., et al. (2007). “In Praise of Resource Constraints.” MIT Sloan Management Review 48(3): 15-17.

Hoegl, M., et al. (2008). “Financial constraints in innovation projects: When is less more?” Research Policy 37(8): 1382-1392.

Iyer, G. R., et al. (2006). “Innovation and new product introductions in emerging markets: Strategic recommendations for the Indian market.” Industrial Marketing Management 35(3): 373-382.

Mccurdy, H. E. (2001). Faster, Better, Cheaper: Low-cost Innovation in the U.S. Space Program. Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press.

Ramdorai, A. and C. Herstatt (2017). Lessons from Low-Cost Healthcare Innovations for the Base-of the Pyramid Markets: How Incumbents Can Systematically Create Disruptive Innovations. Lead Market India: Key Elements and Corporate Perspectives for Frugal Innovations. C. Herstatt and R. Tiwari. Heidelberg, Springer: 119-144.

Ray, P. K. and S. Ray (2010). “Resource-Constrained Innovation for Emerging Economies: The Case of the Indian Telecommunications Industry ” IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management 57(1): 144-156.

Tiwari, R. and C. Herstatt (2012). “Frugal Innovation: A Global Networks’ Perspective.” Die Unternehmung 66(3): 245-274.

Weyrauch, T. and C. Herstatt (2016). “What is frugal innovation? Three defining criteria.” Journal of Frugal Innovation 2(1): DOI 10.1186/s40669-40016-40005-y.

Guest Editor bios

Rian Beise-Zee is Professor and Associate Dean at the Graduate School of Management of Ritsumeikan Asian Pacific University, an AACSB accredited international business school in Japan. He teaches product development and innovation marketing and has been contributing to research on the sources of innovation and international patterns of innovation activity. He has published in Research Policy, Organization Studies, Ecological Economics and other journals and he is a member of the editorial review board. He has been teaching and conducted research in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan. Before, he has been a senior researcher at the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Germany for more than 9 years. Rian has a master’s degree in engineering and a doctoral degree in economics from the Technical University of Berlin, Germany.

Cornelius Herstatt is Professor and Director of the Institute for Technology and Innovation Management, Hamburg University of Technology, Germany and permanent guest Professor of Tohoku University, Sendai/Japan. Professor Herstatt is the founder of the Center for Frugal Innovation in Hamburg, Germany. He received his PhD in Innovation Management from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. His research interests cover user innovation, open source innovation, or frugal innovation in global innovation networks. He is a Research Fellow/Alumnus of organizations including East‐West Centre, JSPS, Sloan School of Management (MIT) or Templeton College (Oxford). Professor Herstatt has published more than 300 papers and over 20 books. His works have appeared in Research Policy, Journal of Product Innovation Management, R&D Management, or Int. Journal of Technology Management. He teaches strategy, technology and innovation to Master, MBA and PhD students and executives.

Rajnish Tiwari is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Technology and Innovation Management of Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), where he leads the research program “Global Innovation”. He is a co-founder and Member of Board of Management of the Center for Frugal Innovation. Dr. Tiwari’s research has centred on globalization of innovation and the emergence of lead markets in rapidly growing economies such as India. Leveraging resource-constraints to create socially and environmentally affordable excellence constitutes a core field of his current research. He has advised Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) concerning new global innovation pathways. He is an alumnus of the Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) and has been a visiting fellow at universities in Australia, Japan and the USA.



IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management is journal of the Technology and Engineering Management Society of IEEE, published quarterly since 1954. It is dedicated to the publication of peer-reviewed original contributions, by researchers and practitioners, regarding the theory and practice of engineering, technology, and innovation management.

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