The concept of frugal innovation tends to be exclusively related to capitalism and modernity. The authors argue that this is a limited perspective. The chapter explores its paradigmatic role in history by focusing on ‘Greco-Roman Antiquity’ (roughly 500 BCE - 500 CE), a period characterized by rapid change and enduring innovations. The concept of anchoring - the effective integration and accommodation of the new in existing conceptual categories for relevant social groups - is introduced to the conceptual toolbox of the study of frugal innovation. With a historical perspective on what innovation entails, it becomes clear that redesigning and ‘good-enough’ solutions are what probably drives innovation and its diffusion throughout history. In fact, therefore, the alternative perspective that needs explanation is not the ‘frugal’ one, but rather the (ahistorical and typically Western) idea that innovation is about linear economic growth enabled by unlimited resources. The present turn to frugal innovation is therefore better understood as a return to frugal innovation.
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