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The Room of Opportunity: understanding phases of creative knowledge processes in innovation

Ingunn Johanne Ness (Department of Education, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)
Gunn Elisabeth Søreide (Department of Education, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




The aim of this article is to investigate the creative knowledge processes which are often invisible in innovation work.


An ethnographic field study was conducted following three multidisciplinary groups; two groups in an Oil and Gas Company, Statoil and one group in a Research Institute. Data collection included observations, field conversations and formal interviews.


Creative knowledge processes develop over time in six different phases of initial innovation work. The article discusses the characteristics of communication and knowledge work in these phases. It was concluded that the creative processes peak in the three middle phases, and these phases can be seen as a separate “Room of Opportunity”.

Research limitations/implications

This study is limited to three groups, but the pattern of phases is consistent across all groups studied.

Practical implications

This study shows that knowledge diversity in groups does not automatically lead to creativity and underscore that group members’ ability to learn from each other is crucial for the quality of new ideas. To develop innovative ideas, groups must ensure a knowledge platform and challenge present knowledge by balancing alterity and intersubjectivity in a circular movement.


The findings presented in a model “Room of Opportunity” show that creative knowledge processes develop in phases and peak in a separate room. This is a new way to understand early innovation work, and the model is a contribution to how such invisible processes can be visualized and facilitated.



Johanne Ness, I. and Elisabeth Søreide, G. (2014), "The Room of Opportunity: understanding phases of creative knowledge processes in innovation", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 26 No. 8, pp. 545-560.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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