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Business Ethics Quarterly

Volume 23, Issue 3, July 2013

Sridevi Shivarajan, Aravind Srinivasan
Pages 381-406
DOI: 10.5840/beq201323326

The Poor as Suppliers of Intellectual Property
A Social Network Approach to Sustainable Poverty Alleviation

We extend the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) poverty-alleviation approach by recognizing the poor as valuable suppliers—specifically of intellectual property. Although the poor possess huge reserves of intellectual property, they are unable to participate in global knowledge networks owing to their illiteracy and poverty. This is a crippling form of social exclusion in today’s growing knowledge economy because it adversely affects their capabilities for advancement at several levels. Providing the poor access to global knowledge networks as rightful participants—as suppliers of intellectual property—leads to poverty alleviation as a result of their increased social inclusion, not only through economic benefits, but also through the poor’s improved well-being as a result of their increased self-esteem and dignity. Using concepts from social network theory, we develop a poverty-alleviation approach to harness and integrate the intellectual property of the poor into global knowledge networks through trust-based partnerships among the poor, non-governmental organizations, and multinational corporations.

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