Distributed Communities of Practice

Anna T. Cianciolo and Karen M. Evans

in The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Engineering

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199757183
Published online May 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Distributed Communities of Practice

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  • Cognitive Psychology



Communities of practice have become increasingly valuable to organizations as the focal point of knowledge management initiatives. Communities of practice enhance organizational performance by stimulating the acquisition, application, and creation of actionable knowledge through social learning. The integration of collaborative technologies, computer-mediated communications, and online information storage connects community members who are distributed worldwide. The geographic distribution of community members introduces cultural, logistical, and practical challenges to social learning that technology design must overcome to enable productive member participation. Together with effective organizational support, information technology can stimulate member engagement and organizational impact. This chapter defines communities of practice, how they achieve organizational impact, and how member distribution affects the social learning process. Design implications for fostering social interaction, enhancing knowledge utility, and supporting effective community governance are provided.

Keywords: community of practice; knowledge management; social learning; actionable knowledge; information technology; organizational performance

Article.  7608 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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