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Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management, Second Edition by MARJORIE A. LYLES, MARK EASTERBY-SMITH

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From Theory to Practice: Community Building

CoPs have been viewed as naturally forming, informal social phenomena. So, can we create CoPs? Creation implies developing something from nothing, and this is not a good approach to communities. Community building, however, differs from community creation. Where there is practice, there is community. The involvement of members or the depth of relationship in that community may be minimal, but the potential for community exists. Community building is not creating something from nothing; it is molding what exists and catalyzing previously unknown opportunities.

These activities are critical for two reasons. First, communities that have a relatively high degree of relationship and involvement can benefit from reflecting on their current status and how they can better achieve their desired goals. More important, however, is introducing community ‘novices’ to how the community model can enhance their work and practice. Particularly in companies with strong individualistic cultures, collaborative working and a sense of community may involve very foreign behaviors that must be learned. Community building, thus, can be viewed as learning how to learn organizationally.

Approaching community building

Community building is culture-dependent. The approach to community building that follows is based on the particular challenges inherent in one company’s culture. This approach could be called ‘cautiously prescriptive.’ Many of the frameworks and processes ...

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