This paper aims to examine a community of practice (CoP) of a small research organization is examined and compare it with CoPs in large organizations that are broadly described in the literature of knowledge management..
The argumentation includes a case study of a small research institute (public), which performs the CoP related activity. For that purpose three community meetings were attended in the period of four months (attendance with observation). Five formal in‐depth interviews with the organizational staff (mostly with the CoP's coordinator) have been conducted.
The paper finds that a higher degree of community engagement, overlapping of organizational roles such as sponsor and coordinator, scare resources, more dispersed and heterogeneous membership are the main aspects that differentiate a community based on the social network of small organizations from a CoPs in large organizations.
The paper looks at CoPs from a different angle – asking whether CoPs in small organizations share the same theoretical characteristics as those in large organizations. As there is not much literature about the application of knowledge management in small organizations the theoretically‐based case study adds originality to the paper.
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