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Role of knowledge brokers in communities of practice in Japan

Nobutaka Ishiyama (Hosei Graduate School of Regional Policy Design, Hosei University, Tokyo, Japan)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 10 October 2016




The purpose of this study is to investigate the role of knowledge brokers in Japanese communities of practice (CoP). This is because if knowledge brokers can connect across boundaries and introduce practices into another CoP, they can contribute by introducing practices as tacit knowledge to another CoP.


This study examines five hypotheses on knowledge brokers with respect to multi-membership in CoPs, knowledge brokering and career adaptability. In this study, an online questionnaire was administrated to 412 business persons, all employed by Japanese companies.


In line with the predictions, the results show that the cognition and behavior of multi-membership were composed of two factors: “creation and integration of diverse opinions” and “acceptance of diverse opinions”. With respect to covariance structure analysis, “concern”, one of the factors of career adaptability, had both direct and indirect effects on “knowledge brokering”. “Creation and integration of diverse opinions”, one of the factors of the cognition and behavior of multi-membership, had direct effects on “knowledge brokering”.

Research limitations/implications

Given that the data presented in this study are limited to knowledge brokers in Japanese CoPs, the study needs to be extended to an international context and to other kinds of knowledge brokers.


This study contributes to the findings which show the complexity of multi-membership and career adaptability. Upon closer examination, each subscale of multi-membership and career adaptability shows a different effect on knowledge brokering. In other words, this study reveals the importance of proactive behavior in integrating diverse opinions for knowledge brokering.



The author would like to acknowledge the constructive comments and encouragement of Rory Chase, the Editor in Chief of JKM, and anonymous reviewers.


Ishiyama, N. (2016), "Role of knowledge brokers in communities of practice in Japan", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 20 No. 6, pp. 1302-1317.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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