In both academic and managerial literature knowledge management has gained an increasing attention and recently a new analytic category has been proposed: the community of practice. The community of practice is a spontaneous and self-managing system with three distinctive features: first, the sharing of working practices as a basis for the transfer and generation ofknowledge; second, the awareness of belonging to a group possessing unique, distinctive and lasting values, which can themselves be directly linked to practices; and third the emergence of mutual and regular interactions among members. Given the vital importance that knowledge be operational, there is a need for research that can capture the ways in which interactions among individuals construct, extend, and transfer knowledge. Practices are also the means for transferring knowledge within networks of practice, i.e. spontaneous groupings of peers with similar skills and positions, albeit mostly in relation to different organizations and therefore withlinks weaker than those pertaining to communities. Of particular importance, and as yet unexplored empirically, are the kind of relations between heterogeneous communities and networks of practice that cut across an organization, as viewed from the perspective of an organization as a ”community of communities”. The present research is explorative in nature and aimed at anunderstanding of exchanges of knowledge between groups of professionals belonging to different networks of practice within a context characterized by a high level of task interdependence.We examine the main issues in the literature, focusing on the object of research and the analytic category adopted: respectively, knowledge, and communities and networks of practice. A series of research questions are formulated and the process of generation and transfer of knowledge is studied by means of an ethnography realized in the radiotherapy unit of a major hospital in Northern Italy.
Work proximity, networks of practice, and knowledge transfer between professional groups / Mattarelli, Elisa; M. R., Tagliaventi. - STAMPA. - Unico:(2004), pp. 41-42. ((Intervento presentato al convegno Sunbelt XXIV, International Sunbelt Social Network Conference tenutosi a Portoroz, Slovenia nel 12-16 Maggio 2004.