The Search for the ’Hidden’ Virtual Communities of Practice: Some Preliminary Premises

The Search for the ’Hidden’ Virtual Communities of Practice: Some Preliminary Premises

Richard Ribeiro (University of York, UK) and Chris Kimble (Euromed Marseille Ecole de Management, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-100-3.ch717
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This chapter examines the possibility of discovering a “hidden” (potential) Community of Practice (CoP) inside electronic networks, and then using this knowledge to nurture it into a fully functioning Virtual Community of Practice (VCoP). Starting from the standpoint of the need to manage knowledge and create innovation, the chapter discusses several issues related to this subject. It begins by examining Nonaka’s SECI model and his notion of Knowledge Transfer; the authors follow this by an investigation of the links between Communities of Practice (CoPs) and Knowledge Management; the chapter concludes by examining the relation between Nonaka’s Communities of Interaction and CoPs. Having established this the authors start their examination of the characteristics of “hidden” Communities of Practice. Following on from the previous discussion, they look at what is meant by “hidden” CoPs and what their value might be. They also look at the distinction between Distributed CoPs (DCoPs) and Virtual CoPs (VCoPs) and the issues raised when moving from ‘hidden’ CoPs to fully functioning VCoPs. The chapter concludes with some preliminary findings from a semi-structured interview conducted in the Higher Education Academy Psychology Network (UK). These findings are contrasted against the theory and some further proposals are made.

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