The usefulness of Wenger's framework in understanding a community of practice

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dc.contributor.advisor Diane Chapman, Committee Co-Chair en_US
dc.contributor.advisor Bonnie Fusarelli, Committee Member en_US
dc.contributor.advisor Colleen Wiessner, Committee Member en_US
dc.contributor.advisor Julia Storberg-Walker, Committee Co-Chair en_US
dc.contributor.author Bozarth, Jane en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2010-04-02T19:05:26Z
dc.date.available 2010-04-02T19:05:26Z
dc.date.issued 2008-12-02 en_US
dc.identifier.other etd-11042008-150721 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/4978
dc.description.abstract ABSTRACT BOZARTH, JANE. The Usefulness of Wenger’s Framework in Understanding a Community of Practice. (Under the direction of Julia Storberg-Walker and Diane Chapman.) ABSTRACT BOZARTH, JANE. The Usefulness of Wenger’s Framework in Understanding a Community of Practice. (Under the direction of Julia Storberg-Walker and Diane Chapman.) Communities of practice (CoPs) are self-managed groups of individuals who share a common interest, often a work role, and interact with the intention of improving practice. As 21st-century American businesses face global expansion and the exodus of the Baby Boomer generation from the workforce, developing new knowledge management strategies, particularly those capable of capturing hard-to-document tacit knowledge, is a critical need. Extant literature deals heavily with the formation and attempted management of communities of practice, but is sparse on what actually takes place inside them; that is, how they “work,†information that could prove invaluable to business leaders. Etienne Wenger (1998) is widely cited for his work on the topic of communities of practice. However, the framework he developed in his seminal book Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity is overlooked in the academic and popular business press, where the focus is most typically on managing a community of practice, rather than understanding their internal dynamics. Further, no study since the book was published has ever tested Wenger’s framework to see whether, or the degree to which, the framework is useful when applied to another context. This instrumental case study is an attempt to fill this gap in the research literature. It tested the framework to determine the extent to which it was useful in understanding the internal dynamics of a community of practice. While the findings of this study confirmed a generic adequacy of Wenger’s framework, the study suggests important enhancements to the Wenger framework for future researchers. A refined framework for understanding the internal dynamics of a community of practice was generated in this study. This refined framework contributes to the existing knowledge of CoPs by extending the understanding of how a successful CoP “works,†informs new means for transmitting tacit knowledge, establishes new guidelines for future researchers, and paves the way for the eventual development of a fully operationalized theory of CoPs. Implications for practice may include consideration of the CoP not only as possessing knowledge which might be harnessed, but as a means of retaining high-performing staff by providing them a space in which they can excel. It is hoped that future research on communities of practice will be influenced by the refined framework generated by this study. Further, scholars and practitioners now have research findings that support a shift in focus from managing a community of practice, to nurturing and understanding the significant internal dynamics of learning, meaning, and identity. en_US
dc.rights I hereby certify that, if appropriate, I have obtained and attached hereto a written permission statement from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis, dis sertation, or project report, allowing distribution as specified below. I certify that the version I submitted is the same as that approved by my advisory committee. I hereby grant to NC State University or its agents the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible, under the conditions specified below, my thesis, dissertation, or project report in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. I retain all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis, dissertation or project report. I also retain the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis, dissertation, or project report. en_US
dc.subject communities of practice en_US
dc.subject training and development en_US
dc.title The usefulness of Wenger's framework in understanding a community of practice en_US
dc.degree.name EdD en_US
dc.degree.level dissertation en_US
dc.degree.discipline Adult and Community College Education en_US


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