A Community of Practice Assessment Framework: A Typology for Effective Groups

By Darin Freeburg.

Published by Organizational Cultures: An International Journal

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper outlines a typology for use in the qualitative assessment of communities of practice (COPs). COPs are groups of people who meet together to share knowledge and solve problems around a similar interest, and they are essential to intellectual capital development within organizations. This paper types COPs along two dimensions: trust and risk. These dimensions are used to analyze a COPs capacity for learning and collaboration outcomes. Trust requires an environment that fosters openness toward good and bad ideas, mistakes and accomplishments, and a structure that is negotiated and agreed upon by the self-initiated membership. Productive inquiry provides the baseline for measurement and recognition of risk capacity within a COP. By typing COPs along the dimensions of trust and risk, it will be possible to estimate a given COPs strengths and weaknesses. This can answer the question of what types of groups are more likely to achieve success along these qualitative lines of learning and collaboration. Focus groups are offered as a means of this qualitative assessment.

Keywords: Communities of Practice, Collaboration, Organizational Learning

Organizational Cultures: An International Journal, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp.35-45. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 562.536KB).

Darin Freeburg

Doctoral Candidate, College of Communication and Information, Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA

Darin Freeburg holds an M.A. degree in theology from Nazarene Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in communications and information from Kent State University. His research interests include organizational culture and information behavior in religious groups. He currently conducts research with the Center for the Study of Information and Religion at Kent State University.