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How do organizations implement communities of practice?

Organizations implement communities of practice by cultivating them at either at organizational or inter-organizational context (Elkjaer 2004). The following are the methods by which organizations implement communities of practice:

Distributed leadership

Communities depend on internal leadership. Similarly a knowledge organization relies on a distributed cadre of informal and formal leaders both outside and inside communities who have the ability and vision to help them reach their goals. The more visible the influence and value of a community is, the more power the community sponsors and leaders can yield in the organization.  An effective community of practice is accomplished by making efficient leaders responsible for organizing a community.

Creation of Value

The responsibility of encouraging a community includes showing how it creates value for members of the organization and the teams they support. At the level of organization the value focus is not only on what single communities contribute but also how constellations of teams, business units and communities integrate to execute and construct strategic capabilities. Especially it is important to make the communities corporate value both compelling and transparent to division leaders because they are committing worth able staff to tasks whose advantages always manifest outside their business units.

Building on the existing culture

Communities must try to provide a balance of exciting and familiar events. Similarly the knowledge initiative must balance its requirement to both construct on and alter the culture of organization. In several organizations it may be tempting to say that a cultural exchange is important for communities to thrive (Ribiere & Sitar 2003). But taking on whole culture of company is usually not the best way to initiate a knowledge initiative. Communities improve their own culture and they can exchange the culture of an organization through their gathering influence on teams and members through units with whom they interact (McDermott, 2000). The benefit of a community based approach depends on the ability to initiate a more robust learning culture on a small scale without taking on the whole organization. Communities are themselves instrumental to the cultural exchange that they need.

Thus organizations implement communities of practice that help its employees to share their ideas on a problem, find out a solution, improve their knowledge base and finally apply them in their working environment.


  • Elkjaer, B 2004, ‘The learning organization: An undelivered promise’, in C Grey & E Antonacopoulou (eds.), Essential Readings in Management Learning, Sage, London
  • Ribiere, VM & Sitar, AS 2003, ‘Critical role of leadership in nurturing a knowledge supporting culture’, Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 1, 39-48

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