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The role of Communities of Practice in improving business performance

The Knowledge and Innovation Network (KIN) led by Professor Harry Scarbrough has been awarded funding by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council to carry out a major study on the impact which Communities of Practice have on business performance. The term ‘Communities of Practice’ (CoPs) simply refers to the wide variety of organizational networks which are aimed at improving practice through peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing. This new study will build on the findings from an initial scoping study (see below) which investigated member satisfaction and motivation across 52 different CoPs.
Participation in the study
The study commences December 2007 for a 12 month period, and we are inviting participation from organizations across a variety of sectors. Participation involves providing access to enable: a) the email distribution of an on-line survey to relevant members of the organization, and b) a small number of interviews with the leaders and members of CoPs, as well as senior management sponsors. The confidentiality of the individuals and organizations can be guaranteed, and participants will be consulted on any publications arising from the study.
Possible benefits from participation include:
  • access to a report summarizing the findings from the study
  • a detailed benchmarking report comparing results on key success factors for your own CoPs against the wider sample
  • access to the on-line resources on networks and knowledge-sharing developed by the study
  • involvement in short exchange placements with Warwick Business School
Scoping Study
In what we believe to be the biggest CoP benchmarking study ever undertaken, KIN researchers worked with 1,286 respondents from 52 CoPs across 10 global organisations in key knowledge intensive sectors including Oil and Gas, Pharmaceuticals, Technology, Consulting & Professional Services, Aerospace, Military, Government and Defence. We based our detailed analysis on community members’ and Community Leaders’ assessment of their CoPs’ impact on both individual and organisational performance. We also measured the extent to which CoPs increased individual and organisational learning and knowledge sharing, as well as personal motivation and commitment. 
The results of the Phase I benchmarking excercise are published in a series of reports entitled 
'Communities of Practice (CoP) Benchmarking Report: Using CoPs to improve Individual and organisational performance':
   • Summary Findings (PDF Document)
   • Full Report (available on request)
   • Guidelines for Good Practice (available on request)
For copies of the other reports please contact Dawn Coton
If you would like further information on the study or wish to discuss your organization’s participation, please contact:
Professor Harry Scarbrough
+44 (0)24 7652 3840
Download a copy of the project flyer(PDF Document)