Virtual Communities of Practice: Investigating Motivations and Constraints in the Processes of Knowledge Creation and Transfer pp11-20
With accelerated market volatility, faster response times and increased globalization, business environments are going through a major transformation and firms have intensified their search for strategies which can give them competitive advantage. This requires that companies continuously innovate, to think of new ideas that can be transformed into products, processes or services, generating value for the firm. Innovative solutions and processes are usually developed by a group of people, working together. A grouping of people that share and create new knowledge can be considered as a Community of Practice (CoP). CoPs are places which provide a sound basis for organizational learning and encourage knowledge creation and acquisition. Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoPs) can perform a central role in promoting communication and collaboration between members who are dispersed in both time and space. Nevertheless, it is known that not all CoPs and VCoPs share the same levels of performance or produce the same results. This means that there are factors that enable or constrain the process of knowledge creation. With this in mind, we developed a case study in order to identify both the motivations and the constraints that members of an organization experience when taking part in the knowledge creating processes of VCoPs. Results show that organizational culture and professional and personal development play important roles in these processes. No interviewee mentioned direct financial reward as a motivation factor for participation in VCoPs. Most identified the difficulty in aligning objectives, established by the management, with justification of the time spent in the VCoP. The interviewees also said that technology is not a constraint.