Cover image for Cultivating communities of practice : a guide to managing knowledge
Cultivating communities of practice : a guide to managing knowledge
Wenger, Etienne, 1952-
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Publication Information:
Boston : Harvard Business School Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xii, 284 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


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HD30.2 .W46 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Today's economy is fueled by knowledge. Every leader knows this to be true, yet few have systematic methods for converting organizational knowledge into economic value. This book argues that communities of practice--groups of individuals formed around common interests and expertise--provide the ideal vehicle for driving knowledge-management strategies and building lasting competitive advantage. Written by leading experts in the field, Cultivating Communities of Practice is the first book to outline models and methods for systematically developing these essential groups. Through compelling research and company examples, including DaimlerChrysler, McKinsey & Company, Shell, and the World Bank, authors Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, and William M. Snyder show how world-class organizations have leveraged communities of practice to drive strategy, generate new business opportunities, solve problems, transfer best practices, develop employees' professional skills, and recruit and retain top talent. Underscoring the new central role communities of practice are playing in today's knowledge economy, Cultivating Communities of Practice is the definitive guide to fostering, designing, and developing these powerful groups within and across organizations.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Among the myriad challenges managers in large corporations face today, one is becoming increasingly important: how to make the best use of the knowledge that a company's employees possess. The authors consultants all lift models from Xerox, DaimlerChrysler and the World Bank to show how to tap into the wisdom within, making this book helpful, in theory. Wenger, McDermott and Snyder spend much time explaining ways to organize, maintain and sustain communities of practice, which they define as groups that "share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and... deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis." Laying out a logical, step-by-step process for building one of these communities, the authors define specific roles for each member of the group. But senior managers looking, as the subtitle suggests, for "a guide to managing knowledge" may be disappointed in the scant space actually devoted to developing a system that captures and manages the learning that comes out of a "community of practice." Managers seeking the best way to obtain and use the knowledge coming out of these groups probably won't find it here. (Mar. 6) Forecast: Wenger is the biggest name in the theory of communities of practice, and those familiar with his work will want to add this book to their collection. Neophytes would do better with his 1998 primer, Communities of Practice. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

1 Communities of Practice and Their Value to the Organization
2 Communities of Practice and Their Structural Elements
3 Seven Principles for Cultivating Communities of Practice
4 The Early Stages of Development: Planning and Launching Communities of Practice
5 The Mature Stages of Development: Growing and Sustaining Communities of Practice
6 The Challenge of Distributed Communities
7 The Downside of Communities of Practice
8 Measuring and Managing Value Creation
9 Community-based Knowledge Initiatives
10 Reweaving the World: Communities beyond Organizations
About the Authors