Communities of Practice and Development of Best Practices

Communities of Practice and Development of Best Practices

Miles G. Nicholls (RMIT University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-556-6.ch014
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Communities of practice and the development of best practices have a particularly strong base in an industrial setting where the intellectual capital—or more correctly, the tacit knowledge—is a ‘craft’ bordering on ‘alchemy’. The concept of ‘craft’ tacit knowledge in this context relates to industrial processes where the operation is often based on a body of individuals’ experience and is not able to be determined or analysed in a scientific or repeatable manner. Some examples of industries where these processes exist include aluminium smelting and float glass manufacturing. In both of these industries, a large proportion of the production processes rely on factory floor operators utilizing ‘craft’ (tacit knowledge) in the pursuit of best practice. These types of situations see many individuals involved in the manufacturing process sharing a community interest, and seeking the determination of best practice as a challenge and a means of enhancing personal and group pride. Best practice is used here in both a general and a mathematical sense, since there are no deterministic solution algorithms that can be used for solving certain aspects of the processes described below.

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