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Communities of Practice


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Table of Contents

Theoretical Foundation.- Ethnographic Accounts of a Community of Practice in Square County.- Characteristics of a Community of Practice in Square County.- Communities of Practice and Information Technologies in the Circle County Public Defender's Office.- Online Communities of Practice: Beyond Organizational Boundaries.- Toward an Understanding of Communities of Practice.


For two decades or more managers and theorists have argued about the role of Communities of Practice (CoPs) in Knowledge Management: how and why do they work or not work? can or should they be managed? do they or do they not contribute to sustained learning? This lucid and compelling book clears up the mess. After setting the theoretic scene, Hara uses her considerable skill as a trained ethnographer to provide accounts of CoPs in action, observing and reporting on the work of both face-to-face and online communities. She shows how CoPs produce, sustain and develop cultural knowledge in a process of localized organizational learning that supports members through good times and bad. Hara is a talented writer: the extended accounts of work in Public Defender work in two different County Courts are compelling reading. Specialists and non-specialists alike can learn from this text: Hara's emphasis on identity and culture and her findings on the specific and varied effects of IT in Communities of Practice are important contributions to thinking about KM.

Elisabeth Davenport

Professor Emeritus

Napier University, Edinburgh

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