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Poor as Suppliers of Intellectual Property - Analysis

Info: 930 words (4 pages) Essay
Published: 29th Aug 2017 in Economics

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In their Business Ethics Quarterly article, “The poor as suppliers of Intellectual Property: A Social Network approach to sustainable poverty alleviation”, Shivarajan and Srinivasan observe that the base of pyramid model’s view of the poor and their approach towards poverty alleviation needs to be extended or altered through an alternative model that considers the poor as the valuable suppliers of intellectual property rather than as consumers of low priced or customized products or services. Due to the poverty and illiteracy people are unable to participate in global knowledge networks. The author has clearly mentioned the limitations of BOP-customer focused approach in the areas such as: economic viability, social impact and how the BOP-consumer approach addresses the social exclusion. The authors suggest newer role of MNC’s in poverty alleviation without losing their profits and developed a poverty alleviation model to harness and integrate the intellectual property of the poor into the global knowledge network through the trust based partnership among the poor, non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations. In this article, the authors also explained the alternative to BOP customer focused poverty alleviation model by giving wider definition to the poor, associated poverty and the poor as suppliers of intellectual property. The authors strongly believe that the poverty alleviation can be achieved through social inclusion and provision of the facility for the poor to share, exchange and gain from their intrinsic skills, intelligence, capabilities taking the shape of the intellectual property for which they are the rightful owners. The achievement of inclusion of poor to the global network of knowledge will provide the opportunities for the poor to make profits from their knowledge, become entrepreneurs, provide employment to other poor and push themselves from the poverty which is not much possible with the ‘Base of Pyramid’ model (Shivarajan & Srinivasan, 2013).

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Strength and validity of claims

In this article, the author discussed the real-world examples in support of their model. The Honey Bee Network in Gujarat, India that involved in identifying, collecting and diffusion of local knowledge and finding roots for innovations. The mission of HBN is aimed towards utilizing the intellectual property of the poor and compensating the intellectual property owners because they are unable to get profits from them due to the lack of channels that connects the poor to the formal sector. NGO-MNC collaborations play an important role in helping to the poor so that HBN provides a legal security to the innovations of the poor and for timely economic returns of the patent innovations in the form of licensing fee and royalties. The author also mentioned the real-time examples for MNC collaborations with the poor such as star bucks, ITC to provide essential benefits of their model and to draw a conclusion that the author’s model offers sustainable poverty alleviation by concentrating on poor as suppliers. From the above it is concluded that the poor has an excellent intellectual property and bringing such knowledge into the global knowledge networks results in forming as a good poverty alleviation approach but the primary research strengthens the validity of claims and the practical experience provides more information for further research. The authors discussed that due to the poverty and literacy, poor people knowledge cannot be shared with global knowledge networks so that they are unable to get profits from their intellectual property. Shivarajan and Srinivasan state “We argue that a major asset of the poor is being overlooked: their vast reserves of intellectual property. Tapping this asset of the poor could hold the key to developing a sustainable poverty-alleviation model that explicitly addresses an important form of social exclusion” (2013, p. 387).Due to the lack of channels poor people are unable to connect with the formal sector, so organizations working in this area need to provide platform to the intellectual property of the poor that provides legal security to the poor’s innovations and the timely economic returns of the patented innovations in the form of licensing fee, royalties so that they are benefited by their patent innovations and achieving a healthy collaboration of NGO’s with MNC’s have developed the poor.


The present article discusses an alternative model to the BOP. The authors stated that the poor are the sources for intellectual property based on the personal, practical and information from their research and observations, so that integrating the intellectual property of the poor with the global knowledge networks results in achieving the poverty alleviation. This article is useful to all the researchers, economists, business practitioners, social workers and the people who are working on poverty alleviation programs; it provides related information to achieve their objectives. This kind of researches is helpful to understand how the intellectual property of the poor is important and how it can be utilized for poverty alleviation.


Shivaraja, S., & Srinivasan, A. (2013). The poor as suppliers of Intellectual Propertry: A social Netwrok approach to Sustainable Poverty Alleviation. Business Ethics Quarterly , 381-406.


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