Identifying Knowledge Flows in Communities of Practice
Oscar M. Rodriguez-Elias (CICESE, Mexico), Ana I. Martinez-Garcia (CICESE, Mexico), Aurora Vizcaino (University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain), Jesu´s Favela (CICESE, Mexico) and Mario Piattini (University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)
Copyright: © 2008
Knowledge sharing is a collective process where the people involved collaborate with others in order to learn from them (Huysman & de Wit, 2000). This kind of collaboration creates groups of people with common interest called communities of practice where each member contributes knowledge about a common domain (Wenger, 1998). Communities of practice enable its members to benefit from the knowledge of each other (Fontaine & Millen, 2004). To achieve this, different techniques and technologies can be used, such as shared documentation, groupware tools, lessons learned systems, and so forth. Therefore, to increase and improve knowledge sharing in communities of practice, it is important to study the mechanisms used by a particular community and understand how the knowledge flows through its members (Guizzardi, Perini & Dignum, 2003). This article presents a qualitative approach for studying and understanding how knowledge flows in communities of practice within organizations. The goal is to provide a methodological guide for obtaining useful information for the development of knowledge management tools for supporting knowledge flows in these communities. The content of the article is organized as follows. First the importance of supporting knowledge flows in communities of practice is highlighted. Then, a qualitative methodology for identifying knowledge flows in communities of practice is described, followed by some examples from a study conducted in the field of software maintenance. Finally, we present our conclusions of this work and future research.