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Original Research

Using communities of practice towards the next level of knowledge-management maturity

Lameshnee Chetty, Martie Mearns

SA Journal of Information Management; Vol 14, No 1 (2012), 9 pages. doi: 10.4102/sajim.v14i1.503

Submitted: 04 October 2011
Published:  23 July 2012


Background: Effective communities of practice undoubtedly impact organisations’ knowledge management and contribute towards building a learning-organisation culture. Communities of practice represent an environment conducive to learning and for exchanging ideas, and they are a formal learning forum. However, the level of organisational learning to which communities of practice contribute is difficult to measure.

Objectives: The research was conducted to analyse the impact of communities of practice on building a learning organisation. The organisational system, culture and people offer the key towards leveraging knowledge as a strategic resource in a learning organisation. The awareness of the organisation concerning knowledge management was measured on a replicated knowledge management maturity model.

Method: The organisational knowledge base was analysed prior to the implementation of the communities of practice and was compared to the situation three years later. The research was based on experiential learning cycles that consisted of five consequential but perpetual stages,namely reflect, plan, act, observe and reflect again.

Results: The results indicated that communities of practice were instrumental in leveraging the organisation to the next level in the knowledge-management maturity model. A collaboration framework was developed for each business unit to work towards a common goal by harnessing the knowledge that was shared.

Conclusion: Although a positive impact by communities of practice is visible, an instrument for the measurement of intellectual capital is necessary. It is recommended that the monetary value of knowledge as an asset is determined so that the value of the potential intellectual capital can be measured.

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Author affiliations

Lameshnee Chetty, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Martie Mearns, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


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