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Journal cover: Journal of Knowledge Management

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Online from: 1997

Subject Area: Information and Knowledge Management

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Creating communities of practice: scoping purposeful design

Document Information:
Title:Creating communities of practice: scoping purposeful design
Author(s):Ben Iaquinto, (Research Assistant at Monash University, Clayton, Australia), Ray Ison, (Professor at Monash University, Clayton, Australia), Robert Faggian, (Research Scientist at the University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia)
Citation:Ben Iaquinto, Ray Ison, Robert Faggian, (2011) "Creating communities of practice: scoping purposeful design", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 15 Iss: 1, pp.4 - 21
Keywords:Information exchange, Knowledge management, Learning
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/13673271111108666 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:Received: 6 May 2010 Accepted: 16 August 2010

PurposeThis paper seeks to scope the nature and form of practices, understandings and institutional arrangements that might contribute to the successful “design” and continuity of Communities of Practice (CoP) in a state government department in Australia. The study aims to provide research evidence to support the design and establishment of a CoP based on systems thinking within this department.

Design/methodology/approachA total of 13 semi-structured interviews were undertaken involving 14 informants. The interviewer also attended one CoP meeting. An emergent approach to research design was adopted with data analysis guided by previous studies on CoPs.

FindingsThe research revealed the existence of six CoPs that were purposefully created internally by the department. Six “design” and practice considerations were suggested for practitioners aiming to create and sustain successful CoPs.

Research limitations/implicationsInterview material was the only source of primary data and it was gathered from one organisation only – a state government department in Australia. Findings indicate that the role of the CoP coordinator is still not fully understood.

Practical implicationsThe results from this study can be used in re-designing a systems thinking CoP to support systems thinking within the department. The study also revealed that purposefully designing CoPs is possible and useful for practitioners aiming to collaborate and share expertise across disciplinary and divisional boundaries.

Originality/valueThis study provides some guidance for the purposeful design of CoPs, which has been under-examined in the literature.

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