Keeping the wheels turning: The dynamics of managing networks of practice

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Abstract

Intra-organizational networks of practice (NOPs) confront managers with a dilemma: they must manage NOPs to reap benefits from integrating geographically dispersed knowledge, but the inherently emergent nature of NOPs implies that management control may frustrate practice-related knowledge to be shared. Based on a case study of 22 NOPs in a geographically dispersed development organization ('TDO'), we develop a model that disentangles the dynamics underlying this dilemma, helping to better understand it. Specifically, four dynamic relationships are interrelated and involve four kinds of embeddedness (organizational, in practice, relational, and structural) that relate dynamically to knowledge sharing in NOPs. Interventions in both the content shared in the network and the connections among network members can influence each of these relations. This study contributes to theoretical and practical understanding of how to manage NOPs without killing them. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and Society for the Advancement of Management Studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-108
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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