“To effectively identify and address the explicit and unmet needs of the broader consumer base in emerging markets, I believe multi-national companies [MNCs] must adopt a new global innovation model. Let’s call it global R&D 2.0.
This global R&D 2.0 strategy calls for a talent recalibration in MNCs’ R&D labs in emerging markets. I suggest that multinationals, besides employing technically-oriented engineers and scientists, begin to staff their R&D units in developing nations like India with two other types of experts, namely:
Anthropologists and ethnographers. By having anthropologists study and interact with end-customers in their natural settings, Western firms can learn to tailor their business models and offerings to match users’ socio-economic and cultural context. […]
Development economists. […] To effectively lure low-income buyers into procuring their low-end goods and services, multinationals need the help of development economists who can concoct creative pricing and financing mechanisms, such as microcredit schemes.”
Navi Radjou argues on the HarvardBusiness.org Voices blog that R&D in emerging markets needs fewer engineers and more anthropologists.