Economic Ordering for Multiple Values
Edited by Susi Geiger, Debbie Harrison, Hans Kjellberg and Alexandre Mallard
Chapter 7: Designing better markets for people at the bottom of the pyramid: bottom-up market design
The purpose of this chapter is to investigate how actors come together in a collective effort to design a market bottom-up in the context of developing markets that are subsistence based and/or at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP). Drawing on Dewey’s Process of Inquiry, an ethnography is performed in the turbulent delta of the Sundarban (translated as ‘beautiful forest’) Islands. Findings show how methods of inquiry can inform bottom-up market design to unfold ways to see what a market is and what it can become. A bottom-up approach to design is vital to allowing market creation to occur organically and inductively rather than being determined a priori or being superimposed onto a market. There have been many calls for academics and practitioners alike to develop markets at the BoP. Companies have been urged to make products and services accessible to consumers earning less than $2 a day. For example, much praise has been given to Procter & Gamble’s efforts – making individual sachets of shampoo and soap available in small quantities, at low costs, in remote markets. However, this follows a top-down approach to market design whereby companies work out what they can offer to the poor or to vulnerable consumers. This chapter first explores the concerns raised about BoP markets and contrasts these with discussions in the subsistence markets (SMs) literature.
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