Innovation process and uncertainties in resource-constrained environments : A case from the water service sector in East Africa

Anne M.J. Hyvärinen*, Marko Keskinen, Jarkko Levänen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
131 Downloads (Pure)


Innovation processes face significant and not well-understood uncertainties in resource-constrained environments in developing countries. Through a case study of a water innovation process focused on Kenya, this article studies the prevailing uncertainties and management principles. With the help of a framework that combines information on technological, organizational, commercial and social aspects, our study identifies uncertainties in four distinctive stages of resource-constrained innovation: (1) Ideation and conceptualization, (2) Learning-based product and business development, (3) Scrutinized product and business development and (4) Commercialization. We recognize three principles required to manage uncertainties and develop successful resource-constrained innovations: (1) the utilization of versatile research and development approaches, (2) building internal acceptability, trust and legitimacy and (3) leveraging range of partnerships and networks to access complementary resources and capabilities in different process stages. Our findings suggest that management of uncertainties requires proactive utilization of partner networks and context-specific strategies in different stages. With this research, we contribute to the understanding of innovation processes by advancing process-based knowledge of water innovation, uncertainties and related management strategies in resource-constrained environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-252
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Developing markets
  • Innovation process
  • Innovation uncertainties
  • Resource-constrained innovation
  • Water innovation
  • Water services


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