The National Advisory Committee on Computing Qualifications: A Community of Practice Case Study from New Zealand

By Trevor Nesbit.

Published by The Organization Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A number of researchers in the Knowledge Management domain including Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) and Skryme (2001) describe the importance of communities of practice and knowledge networks in facilitating the sharing of knowledge and experience amongst experts. Iverson and McPhee (2002) describe two different approaches to knowledge management (KM). Firstly, the information based approach, which is the codifying and storing of information and knowledge. Secondly, the people-based approach or the interactional-based approach, which is the connecting of ‘knowers’ (ie the people that know things) together.

Strongly connected to the people-based or interactional-based approaches to KM is the concept of a community of practice (COP). This concept is described by Wenger (1998) as a set of people who “share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis”. Wenger also describes how a COP has three elements. The first element is “mutual engagement”, to enable knowledge to be shared between members of the COP. The second element is a “shared repertoire”, which are the resources for negotiating meaning including stories, jargons, theories and forms. The third element is the “Negotiation of a Joint Enterprise”, which gives a sense of coherence and purpose to the COP.

The purpose of this paper is to analyse how the National Advisory Committee on Computing Qualifications (NACCQ) in New Zealand exhibits the characteristics of a COP. The methodology used involves an examination of the COP literature, the history and activities of the NACCQ since its formation in 1988 and interviews of a number of people who have been involved in the NACCQ in the years since. It concludes that the success of the NACCQ has been founded on principles that are embedded in what Wenger (1998) describes as being essential in a well functioning community of practice, and that it is this that is the key enabler of knowledge creation and knowledge sharing in the organisation.

Keywords: NACCQ, Knowledge Management, Communities of Practice

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 8, Issue 12, pp.35-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 631.444KB).

Trevor Nesbit

Senior Lecturer, School of Computing, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

Member of the Academic Staff of the School of Computing at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology since 2002. Teach a wide variety of business and IT related topics including knowledge management, internet marketing, software engineering and database management systems. Member of the NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants and the NZ Computer Society. Research interests include knowledge management and computing education.

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