Development and application of a factor framework to possible failure of communities of practice

Arjan Grootveld*, Remko Helms

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Article in proceedingAcademicpeer-review


Well implemented knowledge management solutions can provide a competitive advantage for organizations. One way to improve knowledge sharing is by deploying a Community of Practice (CoP). The strength of this concept is that it breaks through traditional hierarchal barriers that usually exist within organizations. People share knowledge with others that are confronted with the same practices, regardless of location, department, or even organization. It is widely agreed upon that a successful CoP implementation can lead to significant increases in business performance. The context in which a CoP exists can influence such a successful outcome. However, a clear overview of factors that make up this context seems to be lacking in literature. In this research, a new framework was developed that lists context factors that influence CoP success. A literature study was undertaken using both knowledge management and CoP related literature. A number of 11 CoP context factors were systematically collected and categorized in three groups: people, organization and system. The "people" context describes important factors related to the community members. It typically concerns more socially oriented factors. The "organization" context shows factors that are associated with the company in which the community exists. This involves factors related to how management should be cultivating the CoP rather than overmanaging it. The "systems" context lists factors that are related to the media and systems that through which knowledge sharing in the community occurs. Each factor is accompanied by a number of questions, which can be used in semi structured interviews to make an assessment of the current situation. It can help practitioners to pinpoint problems, which allows for improvements to be made. This in turn can potentially increase CoP success. The validity of the framework was tested in a single case study, which also demonstrated the usefulness of the framework in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 9th European Conference on Knowledge Management (ECKM 2008)
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes
Event9th European Conference on Knowledge Management - Southampton, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Sept 20085 Sept 2008
Conference number: 9

Publication series

SeriesProceedings of the European Conference on Knowledge Management, ECKM


Conference9th European Conference on Knowledge Management
Abbreviated titleECKM 2008
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Community of practice
  • Context factors
  • CoP implementation
  • Knowledge management


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