CoPs in Development

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CoPs in Development

KM4Dev Discussions

Josien's main question was: How can CoPs be used for development, i.e. to facilitate collective action of multiple stakeholders?


1) Are CoPs capable of being inter-organizational and multidisciplinary? either of these, and both at the same time?

Replies are mixed:

  • Chris asks 'why not';
  • Joitske gives an example of a network which is both, but where she stimulated sub-groups that are less diverse;
  • Paul thinks either but not both;
  • Tony suggests to have 'real peers'is best
  • Warren suggests, it depends on the members of the CoP who share a practice, and are interested in sharing their knowledge about it

Josien tends to agree with Paul: either but not both. But then, what is multidisciplinary: what about KM4dev? We have all sorts of people...


2) What would then be the reason for people to join voluntarily? for 'collective action' you need a mix of people but how to cater to this mix?

Replies:

  • "the motive for working together and developing / maintaining strong bonds was well aligned" (i.e. the Vai tailors work together and therefore had a motive to bond)
  • people need to "get something out of it. This might just be information sharing, but if you want to see collective action there'll need to be core group that's very active and a clear framework for that action."
  • "build it and they will come"
  • "it would be ideal for a community of practice to attract people who are both passionate about the topic and working on the same topic in their work."
  • "The voluntary nature of COPs is one of their great charms, but there are risks. As I mentioned here in the past, sometimes a community that, to be effective, NEEDS to be multidisciplinary, or to focus on a range of issues, can end up being unintentionally narrow."

Josien thinks: there should be either a passion or a problem, and/or other reasons to bond. To him, Paul's phrase <It's "build it and they will come" again, but just because people turn up doesn't mean they want to help with the building itself.> was an eye opener: (he really fears to think 'build it and they will come' but now realized the groups he works with are still in building phase and tepid responses will /not necessarily/ mean that people will not engage once it is "built".


3) What are sponsorship models for CoPs like these I mean?

Generally: no answer to this one.... but for facilitating sponsors.

Joitske provided interesting examples here:

[http://joitskehulsebosch.blogspot.com/2006/08/practical-examples-so-far.html ]

PLUS, some additional points:

  • CoP as a term and concept is over-used, the focus on theory passes underlying principles
  • "a type of group is NOT defined by theory but by the nature of the group, and the nature of the problem."
  • do not pull; rather push / facilitate
  • do not judge 'success' just by volume and contributers, but also by number of learners, sometimes wrongly named lurkers
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