Metaphors as Cognitive Devices in Communities of Practice

Metaphors as Cognitive Devices in Communities of Practice

Iwan von Wartburg (University of Hamburg, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-556-6.ch064
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The role of language for knowledge creation in communities of practice (CoPs) and innovation teams has been stressed by the accounts of storytelling (Orr, 1996; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). Stories work as metaphors connecting new problem situations with prior problem situations. They guide CoP members to arrive at new connections of prior unconnected knowledge domains within cognitive maps. Cognitive maps contain causal and temporal relations between cognitive concepts: “[Cognitive] maps portray causality, predicate logic, or sequences, all capture temporal relations: if this (in the now), then that (in the future)” (Weick, 1990, p. 1). New connections of knowledge domains brought about by metaphorical reasoning enable innovative problem solutions and serve as a ‘platform’ for new knowledge creation in the future. Thus, investigating metaphorical language usage promises to add value to the understanding of knowledge creation in CoPs.

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