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We identify important areas that are still unexplored, and highlight concerns that design researchers ought to have about this field.As such, the paper contributes towards a better understanding of ways in which design research in this field can be undertaken and reported.Although poverty is decreasing, it is still a widespread and tenacious problem with causes, effects and potential solutions at individual, institutional, and structural levels.
A great deal of design research has been undertaken in such low resource settings, and is discussed under different names, such as ‘community development engineering’, ‘humanitarian engineering’, ‘appropriate technology’, ‘design for development’, ‘design at the Base of the Pyramid’, etc.
This has created an important need to know what has been examined and learnt so far and to plan for further investigation.
Similar to the AT concept, the BOP concept has also been criticised, especially by Karnani ().
He proposes that private sector can contribute towards poverty alleviation by focusing on the people living in poverty as producers as well as by creating employment opportunities for them.
Our purpose is to support the field to explain some of its present issues and to suggest further areas for continuation of scholarly exploration of this field.
Following this introduction, the rest of this paper is organised as follows: Sect.presents concluding thoughts and offers recommendations for further research avenues, while employing a variety of methods with more consistent and thorough reporting of the studies.As such, the paper will be useful to those who are new to this field as well as to those who are experts in this field.They suggest using insights about life circumstances of the individuals and families in these marketplaces and interactions between them in designing products for them.In his book ‘Bottom-Up Enterprise: Insights from Subsistence Marketplaces’, Viswanathan () elaborates on bottom-up approach for designing products and services for subsistence marketplaces.Failures in transferring technologies from Western countries to developing countries in the 1950s and 1960s motivated the AT movement.The technologies, originally designed for the Western contexts, were not appropriate for contexts in developing countries due to large differences in cultural, political, social and other conditions (Nieusma and Riley ).In the 1970s, AT was typically considered as ‘intermediate technology’, placing them between traditional tools and techniques used in villages and advanced large-scale technologies used in the Western countries (Schumacher ). Prahalad, together with his colleagues, proposed that MNEs can enhance their profits, while alleviating poverty on a large scale (Prahalad and Lieberthal ).Typically cited design requirements include, among others, simplicity, low-cost, use of locally available materials, small-scale, energy efficient, labour intensive to enhance employment opportunities, maintainable by local communities, and suitable for cultural and social contexts (e.g. Whilst the AT movement gained momentum after its concept was articulated in the 1970s, the concept was heavily criticised as the ATs failed to deliver sustainable and widespread impact on developing countries (Murphy et al. The AT movement was criticised as it represented stone-age technologies, discouraged competitiveness and industrial growth of developing countries, and was perceived as ‘intermediate’ or ‘second rate’ in terms of efficiency and quality (Carr ), the role of multinational enterprises (MNEs) in designing products and services for the markets of underprivileged people in developing countries is evident in Prahalad’s Base of the Pyramid (BOP) concept. A key idea in Prahalad’s proposition was that MNEs can tap into the markets of poor people by selling them appropriately designed products and services, creating a win–win situation.Subsistence marketplaces, in contrast to markets in developed countries or relatively affluent regions, are characterised by a multitude of deprivations, such as deficits in infrastructure and capabilities of individuals and societies.Such deprivations combined with absence of traditional distribution ways, media channels, and infrastructure for undertaking market research lead to the requirement of bottom-up learning and design.