Monday, 17 November 2008

Knowledge and communities of practice

Wenger writing on knowledge transfer and communities of practice, argues CoP are “cornerstones of knowledge management" and suggests that there are three characteristics to communities of practice: domains, communities and practice. The combination of characteristics allows communities of practice to manage knowledge. It is their combination that enables CoP to manage knowledge.
He relates these domains to strategy.
  • domain - you need knowledge to do what you want
  • communities - you need people to have knowledge
  • practice - you need experience to produce usable knowledge & what have we learned?
It seems to me that there is some overlap of these characteristics with the Nahapiet and Ghosal dimensions of social capital (structural, cognitive & relational), and Wenger’s description of these characteristics in relation to knowledge has given me other angles on questions to ask in interview.

Nahapiet, J. and Ghoshal, S. (1998) 'Social capital, intellectual capital, and the organizational advantage', Academy of Management Review, 23 (2), pp. 242-266. 842
Wenger, E. (2004) 'Knowledge management as a doughnut: Shaping your knowledge strategy through communities of practice', Ivey Business Journal, 68 (3), pp. 1-8. 1051

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