Communities of Practice

Last modified by Lisa Stromquist on 2019/05/08 22:11

Community in Action:  "Communities of practice can drive strategy, generate new lines of business, solve problems, promote the spread of best practices, develop people’s professional skills, and help companies recruit and retain talent."
Wenger E, Snyder W in Communities of Practice: The Organizational Frontier (Harvard Business Review)


Communities of Practice can be defined as “a type of informal learning organization” according to Wenger’s concept of CoPs.  (PMID 19250556) CoPs are established in order to address a certain issue and bring together people from different backgrounds and professions. These people share concerns, problems and a passion about a specific issue. This definition captures the three key elements of CoPs; domain (common concern), community (people who care about the domain), practice (mutual engagement of community members in the activity of the domain).

The concept of CoP is shaped by 3 dimensions.  The first one is mutual engagement which describes the social interaction between individuals in order to create a shared meaning. The second dimension is called joint enterprise and refers to the process of people working together towards one goal. Shared repertoire is the third dimension of CoPs and is based on the use of common resources during the process of decision making. (Wenger et al)

Although CoPs are an evolving concept Li et al identified 4 key characteristics; social interaction, knowledge sharing, knowledge creation and identity building. 

To summarize CoPs can be described as an innovative model to align inter-professional learning processes and knowledge translation.  They are designed to develop a framework for decision making and to determine how these decisions can be implemented in the reality of practice.

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Created by Ann Watkins on 2016/03/31 18:06