The Role of the Marginalized and Unusual Suspects in the Production of Digital Innovations: Models of Innovation in an African Context

  • Paul Mungai
  • Andrea Jimenez
  • Dorothea Kleine
  • Jean-Paul Van BelleEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 933)


The rapid proliferation of innovation concepts addressing experiences in the Global South raises crucial questions about the relevance of this phenomenon for development. In an effort to bring conceptual clarity, this paper reviews several related understandings of innovation and related approaches to, firstly, map overlaps and differences, and secondly, understand how they are situated within the development discourse. This study uses a literature review and applies thematic analysis in identifying the various innovation concepts, and the extent to which they include the marginalized in their framing and operationalization. In particular, this study evaluates whether these innovation concepts are framing innovation as something developed outside of poor communities but on behalf of them, whether innovation is designed alongside poor communities, or whether it is designed by and within poor communities. The findings of this study revealed that in most cases, these concepts are pro-poor, with very few exceptions of innovations done in collaboration with the poor, in a per-poor process.


Innovation models Digital innovation Development Marginalized Africa 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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