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Communities of practice as an initiative for knowledge sharing in business organisations: a literature review

Abobakr Aljuwaiber (Community College, Taibah University, Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, Saudi Arabia)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 11 July 2016




This paper aims to review the research and to summarise the evidence on communities of practice (CoPs) as a tool for sharing knowledge. It will highlight the related literature from the past two decades by looking at potential barriers, solutions and influential factors regarding CoPs within business organisations.


The study consists of a constructed approach to determine the sources for the review that covers relevant literature on the topic of CoPs.


This paper provides insights about the important role of CoPs in fostering knowledge-sharing within business organisations. It suggests that the impact of globalisation has encouraged many business firms to intentionally establish CoPs as a vital tool for knowledge management (KM) initiatives. It also appears that the importance of the three organisational factors – top management, structure and culture – lies in their ability to have a direct effect on intentionally established CoPs within business organisations.

Research limitations/implications

The paper suggests a number of ways in which intentionally established CoPs can be developed within business companies. This paper limited its review to three organisational factors. Investigation of other organisational factors is needed.


This paper provides a detailed insight into the management literature on CoPs as an initiative for knowledge sharing within business organisations.



Aljuwaiber, A. (2016), "Communities of practice as an initiative for knowledge sharing in business organisations: a literature review", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 731-748.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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