Purpose – Communities of practice (CoPs) have gained a great deal of attention from practitioners and scholars alike. However, critical antecedents of knowledge sharing in CoPs have not been fully researched yet. Particularly, empirical results are still scarce. The aim of this paper is to analyse the role of community members' motivation to participate in CoPs, the importance of the community leader and the influence of management support. Design/methodology/approach – In order to test the proposed hypotheses data from 222 CoP members from different communities of a multinational company gathered in a large sample quantitative survey, using partial least square structural equations modelling. Findings – The research results show that a leading facilitator and an appropriate managerial support influence interaction processes in CoPs positively. Research limitations/implications – The impact of motivational and managerial factors on knowledge sharing processes in CoPs is conceptualized and tested. With regard to further CoP research, the developed scales may serve as a basis for future empirical studies. Furthermore, the type of knowledge handled in the CoP as well as assessments from community leaders could enhance the understanding of learning and knowledge generation in CoPs. Practical implications – New insights with respect to the management of CoPs in corporate practice, answering questions such as “What motivates people to participate in CoPs?” or “How to lead knowledge workers in CoPs?” are found. Originality/value – On the basis of a large sample empirical analysis these research results give evidence for the importance of different antecedents of interaction processes in CoPs.
Journal of Knowledge Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 29, 2009
Keywords: Knowledge sharing; Leadership; Team management
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