Getting real about innovations: Formulating innovation descriptions that can reduce ontological uncertainty

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of how descriptions of innovations can be formulated in order to reduce the potential for ontological uncertainty. Ontological uncertainty exists when individuals have perceptions about the future consequences of an innovation, which are based more on their diverse world views than on the innovation itself.

    Design/methodology/approach – The research comprised unstructured interviews and review of the literature relating to innovation hype, innovation reliability, innovation negative unintended consequences, and critical realism.
    Findings – Critical realist diagrams provide the basis for descriptions that can encompass an innovation's purpose; the functions and conditions which are necessary for its reliable operation; and also potential negative unintended consequences that might arise from the innovation.

    Practical implications – There can be much hype and little clarity surrounding an innovation. This can make it easier for different stakeholders to have different perceptions of the same innovation. By increasing the clarity of descriptions, there can be less uncertainty about the purpose, reliability, and consequences of an innovation.

    Originality/value – The originality of the paper is that provides example innovation descriptions which illustrate how hype can be decreased and clarity can be increased. The value of this paper is that supports reduction of ontological uncertainty in practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)86-104
    Number of pages19
    JournalInternational Journal of Managing Projects in Business
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Augmented reality
    • critical realism
    • individual perception
    • innovation
    • innovation hype
    • manual skills training
    • negative unintended consequences
    • ontological uncertainly
    • reliability
    • skills training


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