Scientific Associations as Communities of Practice for Fostering Collaborative Knowledge Building: Case Study of IAKM
Keywords:collaborative knowledge building, knowledge sharing, scientific community of practice, social network analysis, case study
Knowledge building is a social process that is driven by the willingness of people to share their expertise and create new knowledge. Scientific Communities of Practice (CoPs) are communities of professors and researchers whose aim is to foster scientific knowledge generation. In the KM literature, research concerning this kind of CoPs has been substantially neglected so far. The present research analyses the case study of the International Association for Knowledge Management (IAKM) seen as a scientific CoP where members are mostly academics with research interests in developing and promoting knowledge management. Based on a collection of quantitative and qualitative data about member collaborations and scientific production, the study investigates the structure of interactions and the collaborative processes of IAKM members and the specific mechanisms of knowledge building within this CoP, seen as a paradigmatic example of scientific community. Members were asked to respond to a survey regarding their collaborative activities carried out with other IAKM members in the period of 2011 – 2020. The descriptive analysis revealed the kind of collaborations, the distribution of interactions across the community, and the dynamic patterns over time. A follow-up social network analysis was used to provide deeper insight into the community structure and dynamics. The research found that a CoP can really be useful for progress in a scientific field because it can provide a platform for trust and mutual acquaintance that reduces barriers to collaboration and knowledge building across different universities, professional roles, countries, and cultures, which is increasingly important for the progress of science. Most importantly, IAKM exhibited a cohesive and active core membership with pivotal roles played by a number of active members, which contributed significantly to the growth of the Association and, in general, to the advancements in the field of KM through collaborative knowledge building.
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