Transactive knowledge from communities of practice to firms: An empirical investigation of innovative projects performance
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SubjectFunctional diversity; Institutional diversity; R&D projects performance; Communities of practice
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyze to what extent and under which conditions R&D projects benefit from team members’ participation in spontaneous and work-related communities of practice (CoPs). Design/methodology/approach: This is a quantitative empirical study. R&D projects are the unit of analysis. Data are collected through interviews to 121 informants who are members of 60 R&D projects and participants in 195 CoPs. Findings: The participation of project team members in work-related CoPs positively affects the R&D project performance. This positive effect applies also to radically innovative projects. The diversity in the institutional affiliation of CoPs members is also highly significant and positively correlated with the project performance. Research limitations/implications: The paper considers only work-related CoPs, thus neglecting the knowledge transacted through other types of CoPs. Practical implications: Practitioners should support the autonomous participation of project team members to spontaneous and work-related CoPs that cut across the organizational boundaries. Team leaders may enhance team innovative capabilities and performance by ensuring diversity of knowledge and skills from CoPs whose members work for institutions that differ from each other. Originality/value: First, this study provides quantitative evidence of the CoPs ability to support innovation. Second, this research is focused on spontaneous and work-related CoPs within business environments. Third, this study does not analyze CoPs performance, but it postulates a connection between innovative organizational units (i.e. R&D projects) and spontaneous CoPs that cut across the firms’ boundaries.
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