Local or Global? Approaches for New Product Development in Low-Income Countries

Timothy Whitehead, Mark Evans, Guy Bingham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To increase opportunity and quality of life for people living in poverty, governments and non-government organizations (NGOs) sell products to low-income countries. These are typically products that can make fundamental changes to the quality of life such as water filters and solar lighting. However, there has been limited research to support the new product development (NPD) process for this unique category of products which has led to instances of sub-optimal solutions. This paper explores the nature of design and manufacture in these countries, and the impact of local and global approaches has on product development. Empirical data has been generated through interviews with ten senior staff from NGOs; ten product users, and observations of the NPD process in Myanmar. The findings identify that the development of products undertaken in developed countries could provide can provide high-quality solutions, but at the expense of user insight and local capacity building.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-723
Number of pages17
JournalThe Design Journal
Issue number5
Early online date12 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2019

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in The Design Journal on 12 July 2019, available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/14606925.2019.1633882


  • designing for development
  • industrial design
  • low-income countries
  • new product development (NPD)


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