The paper "Communities of Practice and Social Capital" is a good example of management coursework. Knowledge management in an organization is an indispensable component that is meant to transform information into valuable and useable facts. It consists of the entire organizational infrastructure; including necessary incentive schemes, culture, critical people and teams in its sub-processes (Probst & Borzillo 2008). Two critical terms associated with an organization’ s knowledge management include communities of practice and social capital. It is in this direction that this essay seeks to compare and contrast these terms based on the assumptions made in developing them.
The paper also discusses the challenges that organizations encounter when establishing communities of practice. Communities of practice and social capital Organizations, especially in their human resource management, need to manage and use knowledge in the most effective manner. Knowledge, either tacit or explicit, must be developed and nurtured through interactions between and among employees, the management and other facets of society. In their article, Wenger and Snyder (2000), posited that the economy runs on knowledge, and most business entities would work assiduously to capitalize on that knowledge. However, a paradigm in knowledge acquisition and sharing to compliment organizational learning structure has emerged (Wenger & Snyder 2000).
Thus, organizations require “ communities of practice” to galvanize how they share knowledge, learn, and change for better outcomes from their human resource capital. Communities of practice is a term derived from the need for individuals in an organization to learn through social contexts that emerge and evolve when people with common goals interact and strive to achieve these goals (Probst & Borzillo 2008). According to Etienne Wenger and Jean Lave, communities of practice denotes to the groups (communities) of practitioners where newcomers can enter and try to learn the socio-cultural practices of the community.
Therefore, the need for legitimate peripheral participation in learning by newcomers is associated with knowledge management as it is viewed as a way of developing social capital, nurturing new knowledge, stimulating and encouraging innovation, and sharing tacit knowledge within an organization (De Waal & Khumisi 2016). Imperatively, social capital denotes to the information resources in a community of practice that individuals within the community draw upon to get value for themselves and for the good of the group.
For instance, through social capital resources, individuals reduce the time taken to locate an expert within an organization, thus minimizing costs linked to validating such expertise. Secondly, social capital reduces the time and effort required in establishing an agreement between two people in an organization (Abou Zeid 2007). These social benefits help organizations to manage their knowledge resources in a better way. Therefore, social capital can be tapped and encouraged when required by individuals to execute their duties and responsibilities in a more effective and efficient manner. Differences between Communities of Practice and Social Capital The first difference is that communities of practice consist of individuals who form interpersonal relationships in social contexts within an organization with the aim of learning and sharing knowledge (Abou Zeid 2007).
These individuals share work roles and a common situation. For instance, communities of practice are not limited by typical geographic, functional or business unit limitations or boundaries. They are devised based on common tasks, work interests and contexts. Conversely, social capital denotes the informal resources that these individuals would use to access learning or to learn.
Therefore, social capital bases its fundamentals on interpersonal dynamics among individuals in a network, and involves issues concerning trust, shared values and norms, expectations and obligations (Preece 2004). Imperatively, one would say that communities of practice derived their learning from social capital resources.