Community of Practice as a Tool for Company Performance in Strategic Context

Ilpo Antero Pohjola

Abstract


The objective of this study is to examine communities of practice (CoP) as a strategic tool for expanding methods of collective learning and knowledge creation and sharing. Through the case study, I analyze how CoP increase personnel capabilities to improve company performance and achieve strategic goals. In this study, qualitative methods have been used to answer the research question ‘How are communities of practice used as a strategic tool in the case company?’ The literature related to CoP for strategic advantage is reviewed. Then, in the empirical portion, I describe in detail participant observations, document analysis and semi-structured interviews with experts from the case company. Based on the literature review and empirical findings, I construct the model for virtual collaboration in the CoP. The model provides practical guidelines for effective competence creation. Five organizational development areas are identified: (1) the strategy of a firm; (2) motivation to work in CoP according to the strategy; (3) knowledge creation and sharing through CoP; (4) feedback and benefits; and (5) strategy improvements and best practices (business processes). CoP findings indicate that the case company should work on all five development areas simultaneously. In conclusion, top management should encourage personnel to improve personal skills and support an open learning atmosphere. The main suggestion for improving virtual collaboration in the CoP on an organizational level at the case company is the establishment of informal networks. The relationship between CoP and their stakeholders should be strengthened because, in the absence of these relations, the collaboration will never begin. In particular, the case company should improve its social networks and encourage personnel to join CoP. This study paves the way for further research into experiments on the practical implementation of CoP.

Keywords


Communities of Practice, Knowledge Sharing, Virtual Collaboration, Company Performance, Innovation, Open innovation.

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© FEUP EdiçõesThe International Journal on Multidisciplinary Approaches on InnovationISSN 2183-0606