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Communities of practice as structures for managing knowledge in networked corporations

Enrico Scarso (Department of Management and Engineering, University of Padua, Padua, Italy)
Ettore Bolisani (Department of Management and Engineering, University of Padua, Padua, Italy)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 14 March 2008

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Abstract

Purpose

The aim of the paper is to discuss the critical issues concerning the design and implementation of communities of practice (CoPs), that are increasingly being developed in global networked corporations to connect dispersed and (semi)autonomous units, departments, and working teams.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper explores, summarises, and discusses the current literature and the reported experience of internal CoPs as a starting‐point to develop a comprehensive and systematic framework of the functioning of such structures.

Findings

An explanatory framework is proposed, which identifies and integrates the main dimensions shaping the creation and management of CoPs.

Research limitations/implications

The proposed speculation is based on a survey of more than 200 studies specifically focusing on CoPs in business environments. Owing to space constraints, only part of this is reported in the reference list, but further details can be requested from the authors. This study can also provide a consistent model for future empirical validations through case‐study analysis or action research.

Practical implications

The suggested framework, identifying the critical dimensions and issues, can be of use for the design and management of CoPs intentionally created by firms.

Originality/value

The study attempts to draw a comprehensive and coherent picture of elements that are generally treated disjointedly, both in academic studies and in practice.

Keywords

Citation

Scarso, E. and Bolisani, E. (2008), "Communities of practice as structures for managing knowledge in networked corporations", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 374-390. https://doi.org/10.1108/17410380810853795

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited