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Innovation in the knowing organization: a case study of an e‐commerce initiative

Chun Wei Choo (Professor in the Faculty of Information Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada (
Ray Johnston (Chair of the Knowledge Capital Network, Canadian Human Resource Planners, and President of R.D. Johnston Associates, a change leadership consulting firm based in Toronto, Canada (

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 1 December 2004



This paper explores the dynamics of information‐ and knowledge‐based activities in one of the world’s leading foreign exchange banks and its development of an innovative online trading system. These activities are analyzed using the framework of “the knowing organization,” which postulates that learning and innovation in organizations result from managing holistically the activities of sensemaking, knowledge creation, and decision‐making (Choo, 1998, 2002). In sensemaking, project members at the bank were driven by their shared beliefs about the competition, customers and technology to enact the challenge of building an online dealing system. Knowledge creation focused on filling perceived gaps, and involved both expanding non‐traditional capabilities within the group and acquiring expertise from outside the group. Decision making at the enterprise level to approve the project was formal and procedural, while decision making at the operational level was open and entrepreneurial. As predicted by the model, the interactions between these activities were vital. The outcome of sensemaking provided the context for knowledge creation and decision making, while the results of knowledge creation provided expanded resources for decision making. The three sets of activities were integrated through strong leadership, group norms of trust and openness, and a set of shared vision and values.



Wei Choo, C. and Johnston, R. (2004), "Innovation in the knowing organization: a case study of an e‐commerce initiative", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 8 No. 6, pp. 77-92.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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