Bridging ‘communities of practice’ theory and practice with theory-derived design propositions

Lilian Woudstra*, Ellen Rusman, Jeroen de Jong, Wouter van Zwol, B.I.J.M. van der Heijden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic


Communities of Practice (CoPs) are seen as a driving force in innovation and continuous learning, which has attracted much attention from both scholars and practitioners. However, the limited practical operationalization of the concept severely limits the capacity to study CoP theory or apply it in practice. The present study aims to derive a more rigorous and detailed operationalization of CoP theory. In order to do so, we conducted a literature study of Wenger’s work and important literature on which this work was based. The literature was subsequently analyzed using a context-intervention-mechanism-outcome (CIMO) logic enabling us to not only specify important factors in the development of CoPs, but also the generative mechanisms involved in the fostering of its development. With these more detailed design propositions, we simultaneously help to contribute to answering the repeated call for more empirical (rather than descriptive) research into CoP development and to overcoming challenges in CoP development in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2022
EventEuropean Association for Practitioner Research on Improving Learning - Nijmegen, Netherlands
Duration: 23 Nov 202225 Nov 2022


ConferenceEuropean Association for Practitioner Research on Improving Learning
Abbreviated titleEAPRIL 2022
Internet address


  • Communities of practice
  • Knowledge building
  • Professional development
  • Workplace learning
  • Collaborative learning


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