Communities of practice (CoP) have become a popular source of knowledge-sharing and learning in organizations. However, several problems occur in managing them and more knowledge about this area is needed. This article addresses this knowledge gap and aims to understand and describe how to facilitate communities of practice in a large corporation. The research draws on a qualitative case study based on interviews with people involved in CoPs in a large multinational technology company and the analysis followed the method introduced by Gioia et al. (2013). The findings relate to participants' conceptions of the nature of CoPs, how CoPs align with the organizational structure of the company in which they operate, and a CoP’s working model. This research extends the knowledge of how to facilitate CoPs, with several findings about the characteristics and challenges of CoPs and potential solutions to their problems. It also helps practitioners who are responsible for establishing and leading CoPs in organizations by proposing a pragmatic approach to doing that.


agile product development, case study, communities of practice (CoP), interview, knowledge management, service design

Author Bio(s)

Jukka Ojasalo, Ph.D., is currently head of the Master’s Degree Programme of Business Administration at Laurea University of Applied Sciences. He completed his Ph.D. at Hanken Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration in Helsinki, Finland in 1999. He has earlier been a professor of marketing at Lappeenranta University of Technology as well as at Turku School of Economics and Business Administration. He is an adjunct professor at Aalto University School of Business and Helsinki University Faculty of Social Sciences. He is a visiting professor of marketing management at the University of Johannesburg College of Business and Economics. Before his academic career, he worked for several years in the IT-industry and the Finnish government. He has published two textbooks and a large number of scientific articles on service management, innovation, marketing, service design, networks and smart cities. Email: jukka.ojasalo@laurea.fi, ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0001-9271-5879

Marius Wait, PhD., is an associate professor and the head of the department of marketing management in the School of Consumer Intelligence & Information Systems in College of Business and Economics at the University of Johannesburg in South-Africa.

Ronan MacLaverty, M.Sc., MBA, is director of platform development in Varian Siemens Healthcare Company, Helsinki Finland.


The authors are grateful to the reviewers of this article for their valuable comments in improving the manuscript.

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