Developing a framework to explain how organisational factors enable organisational communities of practice : three cases studies set in Saudi Arabia

Aljuwaiber, Abobakr (2016) Developing a framework to explain how organisational factors enable organisational communities of practice : three cases studies set in Saudi Arabia. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The notion of Communities of Practice (CoPs) has flourished in recent years, encouraging organisations to create them intentionally, particularly as knowledge management initiatives. However, existing research details another type of CoPs, one combining components of both traditional CoPs (TCoPs) and formal structured groups (e.g. project teams); these are intentionally established CoPs, known as Organisational CoPs (OCoPs). OCoPs play a vital role within organisations by enhancing knowledge sharing interactions, furthering organisational innovation, and supporting problem-solving and performance. However, whether organisations should openly recognise OCoPs is a subject of debate, partly due to the limited empirical evidence explaining how organisational factors, such as top management, structure, culture, enable intra-organisational OCoPs.
This research examines these three organisational factors (top management, structure, and culture) and their role in enabling OCoPs, as identified from three case studies situated in the context of Saudi Arabia. Each study includes the perspectives of managers, employees, KM leaders, OCoP leaders and members of OCoPs. The various views collated aim to provide a clearer understanding of the interconnected relationship between the three organisational factors, to explain how they enable OCoPs within organisations. Moreover, the study evaluates the opportunities and challenges encountered when establishing a new OCoP.
A qualitative case study approach was adopted to explore stakeholders’ views about the status of how the three organisational factors enable OCoPs at the target companies. The researcher obtained data primarily from semi-structured interviews, but also utilised organisational documents and field notes. In total, 31 interviews were carried out at different sites belonging to the companies, with people holding diverse functional and hierarchical positions.
The findings suggest that three main characteristics inform the three organisational factors’ ability to enable OCoPs activities within companies. Firstly, the middle management role in combination with top management plays a crucial part in enabling OCoPs activities within the organisation. Secondly, appreciation and recognition are seen as important forms of reward. Further, it was recognised as important to create a knowledge sharing culture as a habit at the organisational level to foster OCoPs’ activities.
The findings of this research will benefit both academics and practitioners. First, it offers a theoretical framework that could assist organisations striving to establish OCoPs intentionally. Second, it assists future researchers by identifying the interconnected relationship between three key organisational factors that enable OCoPs’ activities within an organisation. Finally, it also provides insights to assist existing OCoPs to improve on current practices by developing appropriate and beneficial KM strategies.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > Norwich Business School
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2016 13:07
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2016 13:07


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