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How Social Process shapes Communities of Practice and its usefulness in Knowledge Management - Essay Example

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Summary
Traditionally organizations have largely drawn on information technology to share knowledge. Databases have been prepared to retain information and promote learning. However, technology has its limitations in meeting the knowledge needs of organizations. …
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How Social Process shapes Communities of Practice and its usefulness in Knowledge Management
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How Social Process shapes Communities of Practice and its usefulness in Knowledge Management

Download file to see previous pages... Organizations have come to recognize the value of social interactions among its employees and with those in the industry to generate new product ideas, solve customer problems and propel strategic initiatives Social processes can deliberately or inadvertently serve as the vehicles for diffusion of knowledge and create communities of like-minded people, with common professional interests. Referred to as Communities of Practice (CoP), they are usually self-organising in nature. Participants in such communities get together to share ideas, experiences and thoughts to further their learning on the subject of interest. Wenger defines CoP as "groups of people who share information, insight, experience, and tools about an area of common interest".
CoPs may arise out of social interactions, however they are always work related. Colleagues in an organization develop relationships that are not purely formal, as they problem solve together, meet during lunch breaks and discover new techniques and strategies through collaboration on common tasks. Wenger's definition of CoP coalesces three factors integral to a CoP. Firstly that it is a "joint enterprise as understood and continually renegotiated by its members". Secondly that it functions by ensuring "mutual engagement that bind members together into a social entity" and thirdly its ability to produce "the shared repertoire of communal resources (routines, sensibilities, artifacts, vocabulary, styles, etc.) that members have developed over time".
Social interactions foster relationships among employees, and the resulting CoPs surpass barriers arising even when employees separate from the organization. Existing employees still draw on their interaction with such colleagues through the CoP channel to further their knowledge and bring it back to the organization. Similarly by bringing together employees working on cross-functional teams, who rarely interact otherwise, can bring valuable insight to the business.
It is also believed that spontaneous communities hold more value in bringing knowledge than those that are deliberately organized. Their voluntary nature preserves participants' commitment to the subject of interest. The social dimensions by which such communities come into existence can bring hidden knowledge to the forefront. People participate in these communities based on their own interest, time and resources. They value their participation in such vibrant groups that help forward their own professional competencies and in turn that of the organization. The subjects that such communities focus on keeps changing as the requirements of its participating members change.
A very large portion of an organization's knowledge exists in the minds of its employees. As a result it does not always find place in manuals and guides. This knowledge can play a pivotal role in the company's growth and organizations can derive value from sustaining Communities of Practice for sharing knowledge and boosting talent. It offers employees an opportunity to imbibe knowledge faster, since CoPs collaborative nature facilitates easy and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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