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Knowing in action: beyond communities of practice

Knowing in action: beyond communities of practice
Knowing in action: beyond communities of practice
This paper engages with the recent turn in the social sciences towards communities of practice as a driver of learning and knowledge generation across a variety of different working environments. While agreeing with the broad reinstatement of situated social practice in thinking on the dynamics of knowledge capitalism, the paper takes issue with the increasingly homogeneous and instrumentalist use of the term communities of practice to encapsulate 'knowing in action'. On the basis of an extensive review of the available literature, the paper argues for the importance of differentiating between different varieties of knowing in action. The paper notes the differences - in organisation, spatial dynamics, innovation outcomes, and knowledge processes - between four modes: craft or task-based knowing; epistemic or high creativity knowing; professional knowing; and virtual knowing. The proposed typology is used to illustrate the insight gained from such analytical precision, through a discussion of the spatial configuration of knowing in action, long assumed to require spatial proximity. It is shown that spatial and relational proximity - which can be struck at a distance - should not be treated as one and the same.
communities of practice, knowledge economy, situated learning, geographies of knowledge, organisational innovation
0048-7333
353-369
Amin, Ash
c5115571-0400-4027-bc6a-268170c98c73
Roberts, Joanne
c49f0cf6-8c79-4826-b7f2-8563d7aa99cf
Amin, Ash
c5115571-0400-4027-bc6a-268170c98c73
Roberts, Joanne
c49f0cf6-8c79-4826-b7f2-8563d7aa99cf

Amin, Ash and Roberts, Joanne (2008) Knowing in action: beyond communities of practice. Research Policy, 37 (2), 353-369. (doi:10.1016/j.respol.2007.11.003).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This paper engages with the recent turn in the social sciences towards communities of practice as a driver of learning and knowledge generation across a variety of different working environments. While agreeing with the broad reinstatement of situated social practice in thinking on the dynamics of knowledge capitalism, the paper takes issue with the increasingly homogeneous and instrumentalist use of the term communities of practice to encapsulate 'knowing in action'. On the basis of an extensive review of the available literature, the paper argues for the importance of differentiating between different varieties of knowing in action. The paper notes the differences - in organisation, spatial dynamics, innovation outcomes, and knowledge processes - between four modes: craft or task-based knowing; epistemic or high creativity knowing; professional knowing; and virtual knowing. The proposed typology is used to illustrate the insight gained from such analytical precision, through a discussion of the spatial configuration of knowing in action, long assumed to require spatial proximity. It is shown that spatial and relational proximity - which can be struck at a distance - should not be treated as one and the same.

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More information

Published date: March 2008
Keywords: communities of practice, knowledge economy, situated learning, geographies of knowledge, organisational innovation
Organisations: Winchester School of Art

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 346914
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/346914
ISSN: 0048-7333
PURE UUID: 2273ec68-fa6b-4969-92c4-f838f50b4139
ORCID for Joanne Roberts: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5337-1698

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Feb 2013 10:49
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 12:25

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Contributors

Author: Ash Amin
Author: Joanne Roberts ORCID iD

University divisions

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