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

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Discussion—Some Key Learnings from Applying the Model

Communities provide an enabling context for knowledge creation. The organic and informal nature of the environment needed is often different from that which exists in American corporations today (Wenger and Snyder, 2000). The clashing of the new model with old and entrenched ways of working results in three major issues that should be specifically highlighted in the development and nurturing of CoPs:

  • Creating communities is an emotional endeavor driven by passion in an environment that generally suppresses emotions.
  • Communities thrive on responsibility; organizations drive through accountability.
  • Communities hand control to the practitioners; management is often expected and seeks to control.

These are not independent issues, and to overcome them requires significant adjustment in the organization and in management’s attitudes toward the structures within those organizations.

Communities and commitment

According to Von Krogh et al., the ‘key quality of knowledge workers is their humanness’ (2000: 12); the goal of organizational learning, therefore, is to bring out this humanness by creating the proper ba (see Nonaka, 1998, for a treatment of this concept). Humanness arises in our relationships with others through communities. Dewey (1916) defines this relationship in this way:

[People] live in a community in virtue of the things which they have in common. . . . What they must have in common in order to form a community or ...

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