The Reformation of Communities of Practice

The Reformation of Communities of Practice

Aidan Pyke (Cork Institute of Technology, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-556-6.ch074
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A “knowledge set that distinguishes and provides a competitive advantage” to a firm is considered to be that firm’s “core capability” (Leonard-Barton, 1992, p.113). Firms cultivate groups or communities of practice to create, integrate, and disseminate organisational knowledge in particular fields of knowing (Brown & Duguid, 1991). Creating, sharing, and integrating knowledge is mission-critical to a firm because firm-specific advantage flows not from an organisation’s resources per se, but from the knowledge that enables it to deploy such resources to leverage maximum benefit within its operational environment (Penrose, 1959). Knowledge must be managed in a way that differs from the management of a firm’s other resources (Spender, 1996). This requirement stems from the intrinsic qualities of knowledge; it emanates from individual thoughts, which shape and are in turn shaped by the social dynamic within an organisation, a fusion of cognitive and societal processes (Berger & Luckmann, 1967). The inherent qualities of knowledge affect its appropriability (Teece, 1998). Leonard and Sensiper (1998) assert that knowledge is a combination of tacit and explicit. Polanyi (1967) contends that explicit knowledge is knowledge in the abstract, while tacit knowledge incorporates experience and intuitive knowledge, which results from subconscious learning. Itami (1989) argues that it is impossible to separate the individual from the tacit knowledge that he or she possesses. The replication and transfer of knowledge is often impossible without the transfer of actors (Teece, 2000).

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