A relational approach to understanding knowing in communities of practice
AffiliationUniversity of Bedfordshire
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AbstractThe typology of knowledge communities and knowledge collectivities has aimed to enhance the analytical clarity of the communities of practice concept (CoPs). This is achieved by outlining key differences in the knowing unfolding in CoPs and in less ‘homogeneous’ collectives such as multi-disciplinary project teams. This paper argues that the typology offers an account which denies any significant role to agency within CoPs. Additionally, it explicates the knowledge processes CoPs engage with, by reference to their internal constitution and in isolation from the broader contexts in which they are embedded. To address this limitation the paper employs a relational perspective of agency and context interplay. It reports data from two case studies of CoPs operating within the context of a merger in the UK brewing sector. The evidence reaffirms the significance of agency in CoPs. It also illustrates how the exercise of agency is mediated by performative expectations derived from the positioning of work practices within broader relations of production. The interplay of agency and context poses limitations to the reification of the characteristics of knowing—in terms of the types of knowledge drawn upon and the outcomes of such a process—in different groups.
CitationKakavelakis, K. (2010) 'A relational approach to understanding knowing in communities of practice' Knowledge and Process Management 17 (4):168
JournalKnowledge and Process Management