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Structural health assessment of communities of practice (CoPs)

Suchul Lee (Senior Researcher based at Department of Future R&D Strategy, Division of Policy Research, Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI), Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, Republic of Korea)
Yong Seog Kim (based at MIS Department, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, USA)
Euiho Suh (Professor based at Department of Industrial and Management Engineering, Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), Pohang, Republic of Korea)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




This paper aims to provide organizational knowledge management teams with a new metric, the bottleneck impact score (BIS), a valuable tool for evaluating the structural health of communities of practice (CoPs), by detecting the seriousness and pervasiveness of the bottlenecks occurring in knowledge-sharing activities among CoP members.


This paper uses the social network analysis method to analyze the activities of organizational members in CoPs and classify organizational members into four types based on their degree of involvement in knowledge creation and consumption. CoPs are also categorized into four types based on the proportion of member types they contain to identify the characteristics of CoP member types and of CoP types.


Data analysis of the knowledge-sharing activities of 4,414 members from 59 CoPs within one of the largest steel manufacturing companies finds that few CoPs are active in both knowledge creating and consuming and that most CoPs suffer from the insufficient participation of their most experienced employees and experts and hence are vulnerable to master–apprentice and knowledge drain risks.


The proposed BIS metric successfully quantifies the seriousness and pervasiveness of such structural risks and thus can help management teams take preventive action to reduce the identified structural risks.



Lee, S., Seog Kim, Y. and Suh, E. (2014), "Structural health assessment of communities of practice (CoPs)", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 18 No. 6, pp. 1198-1216.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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