Thematic Case

Overall Programme

De-specialisation: Counterintuitive economics for low-income markets

Classical economics assumes a linear trajectory in the progression of firms and markets toward maturity – with specialisation comes productivity. This thematic case study uses a new term in this context ‘de-specialisation’, to advocate for the role of firms acting beyond their core competence as a catalytic factor for growth in low-income markets.

The concept posits that, in these markets, value can be added in situations where the effective demand for a particular good or service is zero. Provision of these goods and services by non-specialists and without direct compensation can still be of sufficient value to increase the demand for and sustainability of the core business.

This concept is illustrated through multiple cases, including the viability-competence gap in training, supporting your network to help them help you, and the challenge of specialisation in embryonic markets.