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Managing social and human capital in organizations: Communities of practices as strategic tools for individual and organizational development

Amelia Manuti (University of Bari, Bari, Italy)
Maria Antonietta Impedovo (Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France)
Pasquale Davide De Palma (Das Human Capital, Bari, Italy)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 10 April 2017




The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of communities of practice in organizations and their most beneficial effects for both individual and collective development.


Based on a literature review, from the first authoritative texts by Lave and Wenger until the most recent critiques, the paper has attempted to conciliate the individual and the organizational perspectives about this precious tool for knowledge management and creation.


Because of their distinctive features, a joint enterprise, a mutual engagement and a shared repertoire, if strategically managed, might resort to individual and organizational positive outcomes. From an individual perspective, communities could be beneficial in developing professional skills, a stronger sense of identity and finding continuity even during discontinuity and change. From an organizational perspective, communities of practice could help drive the strategy, start new lines of business, solve problems quickly and transfer best practices.

Research limitations/implications

Many limitations about this conceptualization have been presented. Therefore, future research should try to focus on communities within different socio-cultural contexts and within different kinds of organizations.

Practical implications

Practical implications about the use of communities of practice within organizational contexts are mainly linked to the enhancement of human and social capital seen as a strategic, although intangible, asset.

Social implications

The social implications of this paper are connected to the contribution to the discussion on the theme which is quite uncommon in human resource management research.


The value of this paper is the attempt to connect the communities of practice to human and social capital.



Manuti, A., Impedovo, M.A. and De Palma, P.D. (2017), "Managing social and human capital in organizations: Communities of practices as strategic tools for individual and organizational development", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 217-234.



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