Online Healthcare Communities of Practice: Identifying the Critical Success Factors

Online Healthcare Communities of Practice: Identifying the Critical Success Factors

Haitham Alali (Management Information System Department, Amman Arab University, Amman, Jordan)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJCCP.2016010101


Online communities of practice (CoPs) are recognised as a KM initiative, whereby practitioners conduct discussions and share their experiences online. The imperative of the evaluation in measuring the effectiveness of Online CoPs fulfills its role and support for healthcare practitioners knowledge sharing has been recognized by practitioners and researchers in the KM field. Success measures of Online CoPs should support healthcare organizations in different methods; it could suggest ways to improve the design, implementation, usage, and operation of Online CoPs by addressing and understanding the main factors that impact the Online CoPs success and acceptance. Presently, establishing an evaluation framework has become essential for the advancement of research and practice in this area. The author has classified the existing researches, based on the area of evaluation. The study concludes by proposing a conceptual framework to measure the success of online CoPs in health care sector.
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This study provides an overview of the pertinent literature of the online communities of practice (CoPs), where the development, main characteristics and dimensions of online CoPs measurement, which are considered in the online CoPs literature have been examined. Moreover, this study has reviewed past empirical studies related to online CoPs success and acceptance that have highlighted the major themes and criteria of online CoPs measurement; in addition to the earlier online CoPs success and acceptance models have also been reviewed. The output of this review has identified the most critical dimensions that constitute towards the success and acceptance of online CoPs.

Online CoPs have emerged as a new robust interactive channel using available social media, by supporting all characteristics used as part of the knowledge management system (KMS) (Tseng & Kuo, 2014). According to Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder (2002), online CoPs help knowledge management by capturing and sharing the expertise of members and by imparting skills, ideas, problems, innovations, talents, and experiences. Members of online CoPs are held together by a common purpose and require information on what others know (Wenger et al., 2002). However, the importance of measuring the effectiveness of online CoPs has been recognized by practitioners and researchers in the knowledge management (KM) field as supportive of knowledge sharing (Alali & Salim, 2013; Kankanhalli & Tan, 2005; Tseng & Kuo, 2014). Measuring the success of online CoPs includes the process of assessing their value in managing knowledge by identifying success and acceptance factors (Alali & Salim, 2013; Nistor, Schworm, & Werner, 2012).

Success measures of online CoPs support organizations in different ways, such as suggesting approaches to improve usage and operation of online CoPs. Furthermore, success measures of online CoPs can enhance decision-making related to online CoPs and KM projects investments (Ho et al., 2010; Wenger et al., 2002), as well as instruments to be used as benchmarks for future measurement and enhancement of online CoPs. Fundamentally, literature review helps researchers to determine the missing gap that can be compensated in the future (Fernandez, Gonzalez, & Sabherwal, 2004; Kankanhalli & Tan, 2005). From the theoretical perspective, the wide implementation of online CoPs in various industries with high levels of success had been reported by Wenger and other scholars, in contrast to the limited studies that evaluated online CoPs in the healthcare sector. In addition, these existing limited studies are descriptive, and hence have motivated this study to review and to compare the literature pertaining to healthcare online CoPs and that of various industries. Ultimately, this study aims to identify the main dimensions that determine the success of online CoPs. We have analysed and synthesized successful literature of online CoPs to identify the main taxonomy related to their success.

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