A Social Informatics Framework for Sustaining Virtual Communities of Practice

A Social Informatics Framework for Sustaining Virtual Communities of Practice

Umar Ruhi (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-955-7.ch037
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Abstract

Reminiscent of the present-day Web vogue and the emergence of a myriad of e-enabled business models, virtual communities of practice are fast emerging as the next logical extension of traditional communities of practice. Virtual communities of practice exemplify the components of most contemporary communities of practice, which incorporate elements of physical social interactions, in combination with distributed virtual connections. These communities utilize technology applications to better manage their routine pursuits. More specifically, information and communication technologies (ICTs) are being used to facilitate the operations of a community of practice by providing tools for managing content (explicit knowledge) and a means for sharing expertise (tacit knowledge) through cooperation, coordination, and collaboration. The enabling technologies for institutionalizing a virtual community of practice range from simple user tools such as e-mail, teleconferencing, and groupware, to the more complex software applications, including group decision support systems (GDSSs) and corporate portals.

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