Nature and spirit of exchange and interpersonal relationships fostering grassroots innovations

College of Business, Tennessee State University
Publication Type:
Journal Article
The Journal of Developing Areas, 2016, 50 (6), pp. 399 - 409
Issue Date:
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Exchange and interpersonal relationships are central to the functioning and sustainability of socio-economic activities, including innovation. Grassroots innovations (GI) are dynamic and relational phenomena that evolve with grassroots innovators’ beliefs, expectations and obligatory relationships for varied resources, and the actualization of their desire to make novel and beneficial products. In this paper, the dynamics of exchange and interpersonal relationships that underpin the GI phenomenon are explored through the lens of exchange theory and the consideration of the psychological contract. While exchange theory provides an explanation for the interdependent and dyadic socio-economic relations present in GI, the psychological contract provides a view on the perceptions and expectations that are embedded in exchange and innovation activities. These two theoretical lenses serve as a foundation for the research to engage with the subjective reality of the grassroots innovators’ experiences. In examining the subjective reality of the innovation experiences of the grassroots innovators; the research thereby discerns the dominant form of exchange and socio-economic structure that fosters GI from ideation to commercial scaling. Through the use of phenomenological exploration and detailed thematic analysis of the innovation experiences of the thirteen Indian grassroots innovators, the research determined the nature and spirit of the relational commercial exchanges that both entail and foster GI. The paper starts off with the discussion of the theoretical foundations of the research. Thereafter, the paper briefly discusses the research methodology and the exchange dynamics present in GI. In assimilating the research findings, the paper enlists the features of exchanges embedded in GI phenomenon and highlights the capacity of relational commercial exchanges in fostering GI. The paper further proposes, through this discussion, an interpretive framework for understanding how exchange influences the development of GI. Finally, the paper concludes with an identification of the dynamics of exchange within the GI process, and ascertains the necessary conditions for GI to flourish in commercial space.
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