Communities of Practice in Transition Economies: Innovation in Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Communities of Practice in Transition Economies: Innovation in Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Narasimha Rao Vajjhala (University of New York Tirana, Albania)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1913-3.ch007
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Abstract

Communities of Practice (CoPs) are informal groups of individuals sharing knowledge and experience within or outside an organization. CoPs can help organizations, especially Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) with limited financial and human resources improve efficiency and productivity by leveraging knowledge resources in the organization. Transition economies have different social and economic conditions as compared to developing and developed countries. The success of CoPs in SMEs located in transition economies depends to a certain extent on the social and cultural factors in transition economies. This chapter explores the factors contributing to the success of CoPs as well as challenges that CoPs face in transition economies. This chapter explores the role of national and organizational culture on the functioning of CoPs in SMEs in transition economies. The objective of this chapter is to develop a framework that could be applied to CoPs in transition economies. This chapter also identifies the factors that might limit the work of CoPs in the context of innovation in SMEs in transition economies.
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Background

The term Communities of Practice (CoPs) was first coined by Lave and Wenger (1991) to describe a group of people sharing a concern or passion to do something by regular interaction with their peers. CoPs are informal groups of individuals getting together voluntarily with the aim of sharing experiences and solving job-related problems (Borzillo, Schmitt, & Antino, 2012). CoPs in business are regarded as one of the best ways of managing knowledge bases in organizations and optimizing organizational performance (Rivera, 2011; Roztocki & Weistroffer, 2008). The criteria for efficient functioning of CoPs in organizations have been examined in literature in several developing and developed countries (Amin & Roberts, 2008; Iaquinto, Ison, & Faggian, 2011; Retna & Tee Ng, 2011). However, there is a literature gap on the factors influencing the working of CoPs in transition economies, especially in the context of SMEs. SMEs form a significant portion of economy and contribute significantly to the employment and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in transition economies (Vajjhala & Baghurst, 2014).

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