Aspects and Issues of Communities of (Mal)practice

Aspects and Issues of Communities of (Mal)practice

Jon Pemberton (Northumbria University, UK) and Brenda Stalker (Northumbria University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-556-6.ch002
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The concept of community of practice (CoP) is now embedded within all areas of public- and private-sector organisations, although the term has different connotations dependent on its context. It is not a new concept, and it could be argued that many of the developments in this area are evolutionary rather than cutting-edge innovations. Informal groupings have always existed, but in the quest to harness and develop knowledge and ‘add value’ to organisations, the CoP has been embraced and developed, as various strands of management practice have fused and merged. Typically, these incorporate knowledge management, management strategy, complex adaptive systems, and latterly, knowledge ecology. Whether they exist as a social gathering or technological network, the sharing of expertise and the creation of new knowledge, often tacit in nature, is a central tenet of a CoP’s existence (Lave & Wenger, 1991). There are clear parallels with organisational learning and the knowledge-centric organisation, and few would dispute the potential benefits that CoPs can bestow on the individuals making up these communities and the organisations that these CoPs reside in (Wenger & Snyder, 2000; McDermott, 2002).

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