Community of Practice
Origin of Community of Practice
Concept Utilization in Cultural studies
The term community of practice came into usage very recently. The term is used to describe a group of people who share a common passion, interest or profession and are keen on learning from each other or helping each other grow or handle practice related challenges (Wenger 1994, p. 3). For example, a team of Managers engaged in strategic marketing or computer software engineers working on a programming project have same or interrelated challenges thus through their interactions, they form a community of practice (Wenger1999, p. 4).
Cultural studies indicate or attribute the origin of Community of practice has to the apprenticeship aspect of learning which has been in practice for many years (Wenger 1999, p. 6). Wenger and Lave studied how novices in informal settings become established members of these groups. They used the word community of practice to describe learning through practice and participation. They called this, situation learning. Situation learning’s or community of practice’s foundation was constructed over time through a process of legitimate central participation (Wenger 1999, 10). Legitimization and participation are key issues in the formation of a community of practice because they determine whether the community grows to become formalized entities in society/organization or not. The adaptability to a community of practice and participation in the same are determined by location and identity in the social world (Drath & Palus 1994, p. 56). Wenger's research aimed at establishing how apprenticeships help people learn. He discovered that when novices join an established community, they spend time first observing and perhaps doing some simple and basic roles as they learn how the community operates and their participation (Wenger 1999, p. 43).
It’s not easy to work into a situation unless one understands the language used. Concise language usage and thus meaning are "situated in interested, subjectively negotiated social interaction” (Hardcastle & Patricia 2004, p. 98). This is, in other words, is different from constraining physical view of the context of most acknowledgements. Situated learning generally shares several tenets with the interpretive theory of situation (Hardcastle & Patricia 2004, p. 104).
The concept of community of practice emphasizes the relationship between actors and their subjective realm or world whether dictated by profession or other cultural issues (Stratified, 2001, p. 59). It emphasizes the inherently socially negotiated quality of meaning and is interested or concerned with the character of the thought and action of persons engaged in the activity. This view claims that learning or
Organizations are now aware of the critical place of communities of practice in the achievement of organizational goals (Drath & Palus 1994, p, 98). Xerox is the first organization to have entrenched formal community of practice in its operations. Currently, most learning institutions, for example, the University of Rotterdam employ this concept. The entrenching of a community of practice is important because learning is in what Wenger calls ‘situated experience’ (Wenger 1999, p. 34). Situated experience is or situated learning is more effective because individuals learn in the task environment. For example, new employees get
We live in the world which is socially and culturally composed (Barton & Tusting 2005, p. 203). Knowledge
Communities of practice can be very instrumental in helping organizations gain a competitive advantage (Streatified, 2001, p. 68). As Wenger and Snyder (2000, p. 140) point out, communities of practice can help drive organizational strategies, solve pertinent problems in organizations, develop professionalism,
Management can not intentionally create communities of practice. However, it can facilitate towards their establishment and sustain the informal networks already in place so that they thrive. To sustain and get the communities going over time, managers and all the stakeholders should identify potential communities of practice that will enhance the company’s strategic capabilities for example informal people with the ability, skills and the zeal to enhance and develop an organization’s competencies that already exist (Wenger & Snyder 2000, p. 144). The objective is to identify these groups and assist them to come together as the community of practice (Streatified 2001, p. 79).
Barton, D &
Drath, WH & Palus, JC 1994, Making Common Sense, Leadership as Meaning Making in a Community of Practice Centre for Creative Leadership, Center for Creative Leadership, New York.
Hardcastle, AD & Patricia, RP 2004, Community Practice: Theories and Skills for Social Workers, Oxford University Press, Oxford
Wenger, CE 1999, Communities of Practice: Learning, Leaning, and Identity Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Wenger, CE & Snyder, MW 2000, Communities of Practice: The Organizational Frontier, Harvard