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The contradiction of Indian innovation: an epistemological explanation

Nimruji Jammulamadaka (Organizational Behaviour Group, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Kolkata, India)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 18 December 2018

Issue publication date: 23 May 2019




The purpose of this paper is to examine the value of decolonial approaches (DAs) such as epistemic locus (Mignolo, 1995, 2000) in studying innovation.


This paper is based on a case study of a stem cell surgical innovation developed in India. A critical hermeneutic analysis method has been followed for data analysis.


Epistemic locus influences the framing of the problem, perceptions of risks/opportunities as well as the envisioning of alternate institutional systems. Persistent and strategic effort at building connections changes local improvisation into a globally legitimate innovation.

Research limitations/implications

It indicates the value of using DAs for innovation studies especially epistemic locus, enactment and connections in understanding knowledge generation and innovation.

Practical implications

Innovation in Global South can be encouraged by giving more space to the innovator to attempt or experiment. More conscious conversation of epistemic locus of the researcher could help.

Social implications

Countries have to move beyond a mere technological imitation to include discussions on epistemic imitation. Epistemic imitation prevents one from seeing what one has and one only looks at conditions from the eyes of the dominator.


This study documents the development of an innovation from an Indian epistemic locus which differs from a western epistemic locus and the impact this has on an innovation.



The author gratefully acknowledges the financial support received from IIM Calcutta for this work. The author also acknowledges the access provided by Dr Sangwan and colleagues at LVPEI. The author is also thankful to the helpful comments provided by colleagues Biswatosh Saha, Gavin Jack and Anshuman Prasad.


Jammulamadaka, N. (2019), "The contradiction of Indian innovation: an epistemological explanation", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 194-216.



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