Knowledge Networks: Innovation through Communities of Practice

Editors, Paul Hildreth and Chris Kimble
Publisher, Idea Group Publishing
Hard cover ISBN: 159140200X Soft cover ISBN: 1591402700



In the computer and software business, it is common practice to involve users in problem solving and sharing of experiences, not only between a company and individual users but also between groups of users. Although problem solving and enabling customer support has gained some attention in recent years, a more intriguing thought would address users as a source of innovation. What if users themselves, or in interaction with other users, would, in addition to solving specific problems, also develop and share new knowledge that influences products within companies. In connection with this notion is the question as to how companies can come to relate to these networks of users. The empirical case study in this chapter was generated from a long-term study during 1998-1999 with Cisco Systems and the company's groups of users. Of particular interest to this study was the use of the Cisco newsgroup, which is available on the Internet. The conceptual framework was generated from the emerging theory of Communities of Practice (CoPs). By using this framework, user networks were recognised as peripheral and yet vital sites of innovation. This implies new strategies for management of innovation as the creation of spaces for interaction with and between users and addressing networks rather than individual users.


Anders Lundkvist