Proceedings of 5th European Business Research Conference

Proceedings of 5th European Business Research Conference
10 - 11 September 2015, St. Regis Hotel, Rome, Italy, ISBN: 978-1-922069-83-2
Advancing the Base-of-the-Pyramid (BoP) Concept
Simon Joncourt
Brief statement of Research question or objective or statement of problem: The Base-of-thePyramid (BoP) concept advocates the involvement of private companies in order to improve the
lives of the approximately four billion people living on less than 2000 Dollars a year. Despite the
prominent role it plays among the market-based perspectives for poverty alleviation, it has not
reached maturity as a research field. There is still a need for theoretical and empirical
Period of study, methodology or model used: We update and complement the recent review of
the BoP concept by reviewing scientific contributions published between 1999 and 2014. We also
integrate complementary research domains such as Corporate Social Responsibility, Inclusive
Business, Microfinance, Non-profit Expansion, Social Entrepreneurship, and Subsistence
Marketplaces into the BoP concept. We use the problematization method to identify in-house
assumptions and field assumptions shared across research domains, and test them through
critical empirical and theoretical interrogation. We also develop field assumptions for a broader
BoP concept.
A brief statement of findings: On the empirical level it became evident, that the academic
discussion is still not strongly embedded in research institutions from low-income countries. Case
studies are fairly spread among low-income and newly-industrializing countries, with a large
cluster from India. Financial and communication services dominate the type of products and
services investigated empirically. Most case studies derive from qualitative research with
interviews as the main method of data collection. Such data is seldom triangulated between data
from the organization and the consumers and/or entrepreneurs. All research domains under
review have similar in-house assumptions, which can be aggregated into six general field
assumptions: business eco-systems, financial viability, innovativeness, resource constraints, role
of the poor and scalability. These assumptions inform a framework for management research in
BoP markets.
Simon Joncourt, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Switzerland.