Organisational Change Elements of Establishing, Facilitating, and Supporting CoPs

Organisational Change Elements of Establishing, Facilitating, and Supporting CoPs

P. A.C. Smith (The Leadership Alliance Inc., Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-556-6.ch069
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Although knowledge management (KM) is often proposed as a viable means to enhance business performance by facilitating knowledge creation and sharing, there is serious concern that it frequently fails to deliver on its promise (Despres & Chauvel, 2000; Fuller, 2001; Newell, Scarbrough, Swan & Hislop, 1999; Pietersen, 2001; Brown & Duguid, 2000; Storey & Barnett, 2000). Smith and McLaughlin (2003) posit that KM’s lacklustre performance can often be traced to non-rational emotion-based “people-factors” that negatively influence interpersonal relationships, and that are ignored during typical KM implementation. These authors argue that the success of any significant change initiative, including KM, will be critically dependent on understanding, and improving as necessary, the collaborative characteristics of the organisation’s culture. This article adopts the notion that effective KM is largely people-centric, and that communities of practice (CoPs), when suitably grounded, provide a practical framework for assisting in the development of appropriate “people-factors” and the nurturing of collaborative relationships. It builds on the work of Smith and McLaughlin (2003) by proposing an extension of their approach that helps ensure the presence of a truly collaborative culture in the target community.

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