Facilitating and Improving Organisational Community Life

Facilitating and Improving Organisational Community Life

Angela Lacerda Nobre
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-933-5.ch243
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The growth in importance of communities within organisational settings is a sign of a change in paradigm. When management and organisational theory introduce the critical notion of communities, in parallel to the concepts of collaborative work and of knowledge sharing, there is an internal revolution going on. Therefore, communities of practice theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1999; Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002; Brown & Duguid, 1991) has a critical role to play in today’s development of management and organisation theory. At a broader level, there is an ongoing metamorphosis that is highly visible through the vertiginous development of technology, the globalisation of markets, and the acceleration of the increase in complexity. Equally important are the less visible, and thus harder to acknowledge, changes in the way we think, reason, communicate, and construct our image of ourselves and of the world. The changes brought by the knowledge society of the information age (Kearmally, 1999) triggered the development of theoretical approaches to management. Among these, knowledge management and organisational learning have developed. These theories have acknowledged the importance of information and communication technology within organisations, and have explored alternative insights into mainstream management approaches. The knowledge management and organisational learning sub-disciplines represent an innovation effort that affect areas of organisational life which had been marginalised or ignored under traditional management theory. Communities of practice is the single most important example. Therefore, communities of practice represent a critical aspect of the present understanding of the complexity of organisational life. Within the broad and varied development of organisational theories, semiotic learning emerges as a particular approach to organisational learning. Semiotic learning may be described as a dynamic practice. It incorporates theoretical contributions from social philosophy and adapts them to a specific approach to facilitate learning at the organisational level. It is a learning and development tool for action at the organisational level. The central aspect of the semiotic learning approach is the focus on the quality of community life at the organisational level. Through a semiotic learning approach to organisational learning and development, it is possible to intensify and to unleash the true potential of current challenges at personal, organisational, and societal levels. By focusing on the social practices, structures, and processes which underlay human interaction, and by calling attention to the way we construct ourselves and our image of the world through those interactions, it enables the development of a rationale that supports collaborative as well as transformative forms of work and learning.

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