Knowledge Exchange in Networks of Practice

Knowledge Exchange in Networks of Practice

Robin Teigland, Molly McLure Wasko
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-933-5.ch149
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The concept of a community of practice is emerging as an essential building block of the knowledge economy. A community of practice consists of a relatively tightly knit group of members who know each other, work together face to face, and continually negotiate, communicate, and coordinate with each other directly. The demands of direct communication and coordination limit the size of the community, enhance the formation of strong interpersonal ties, and create strong norms of direct reciprocity between members (Brown & Duguid, 2000). These communities develop through the mutual engagement of individuals as they participate in shared work practices, supporting the exchange of ideas between people, which results in learning and innovation within the community (Brown & Duguid, 2000). However, typically not all of an organization’s relevant knowledge resides within its formal boundaries or within its communities of practice. To remain competitive, organizations need to ensure that new knowledge found in the external environment is integrated with knowledge that is found within the firm (Cohen & Levinthal, 1990). Organizations must rely on linkages to outside organizations and individuals to acquire knowledge, especially in dynamic fields where innovation results from inter-organizational knowledge exchange and learning (Cohen & Levinthal, 1990).

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