Evaluating "The Bottom of the Pyramid" from a Fundamental Capabilities Perspective

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    Prahalad’s thesis is extremely vague, indeed it identifies seven versions. The paper then turns to examining the 12 major cross-country case studies that Prahalad uses as corroboration for his views. It argues that the evidence that Prahalad offers to support his claims fails to do so, or, proves to provide counter-examples. Furthermore, the case study approach that Prahalad uses is methodologically weak for the strong claims that he makes. Placing the argument in a broader perspective, it is argued that the bottom of the pyramid approach can do more harm than good if it, as Prahalad does, plays down factors which have been important to large scale poverty reduction in countries such as South Korea, China, India and Vietnam. After assessing the book on its own terms, the paper asks whether or not income poverty is the correct space in which to evaluate the impact of business activities. The concepts of income poverty, multidimensional poverty and capability deprivation are discussed and a notion of fundamental capability deprivations as being the relevant evaluative space is defended. It is argued while the Bottom of the Pyramid approach fares better on these criteria, but still leaves a lot to be desired. The eradication of deprivation requires more than self-interested firms.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
    PublisherCentre for Business and Development Studies
    Number of pages20
    ISBN (Print)9788792111005
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    SeriesCBDS Working Paper
    Number1, 2007

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