The Value (?) of BoP Protocols in Creating Institutional Sustainability through National Partnerships
To make use of existing Base of the Pyramid (BOP) protocols it is important to understand what constitutes a BOP project. Most of the recent literature considers the transnational collaboration between western multinationals and third world communities, but largely ignores how the relatively industrialised local industry can offer socially anchored and institutionally sustainable contributions to the bottom tier of the economic pyramid in the same geographic region. Based on a literature review, focused on understanding the characteristics and application of BOP design and innovation methods, this article presents an assessment of the usability of acquiring knowledge from scientific literature in the preparation of the actual execution of a BOP-oriented eco-social project. In this project, western designers acted as intermediaries between local project partners in Costa Rica. The paper discusses how ‘desk knowledge’ preparation only partly prepares for the challenges in such a project as it is largely descriptive, characterizing the process and environment differences relative to more industrialized economies, but explains little about how to consider and to apply a wide range of factors that are not easily generalized across countries, and may even vary enormously within country boundaries. Hence, the paper supports the idea of more research on how to prepare designers involved in BoP projects for the challenges they may face.