elearningEuropa: Inter-Organizational Communities of PracticeelearningEuropa: Inter-Organizational Communities of Practice
The experience gained in designing successful communities of practice within organizations is directly transferable to communities of practice that reach across organizational boundaries. However, one aspect needs particular attention. We have seen that a "culture of trust and openness" is needed to allow meaningful knowledge to be exchanged.
Comment: "Trust and openness" are absolutely crucial in developing any kind of human network, but there are distinctions between CoPs within organizations and CoPs across organizations. John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid classify them as Communities of Practice (within organizations) and Networks of Practice (across organizations). Their classic paper, Mysteries of the Region: Knowledge Dynamics in Silicon Valley highlights this difference. They note that a crucial differentiator is the strength of the ties involved. For Networks of Practice it is the strength of the "weak" ties that leads to learning and innovation. A report from the Stanford Business Magazine--Innovators Navigate Around Cliques-- also gets to this conclusion.
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