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MGT 403 SEU The Community of Practice Instrument Essay

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College of Administrative and Financial Sciences
Assignment 2
Deadline: End of Week 11, 16/11/2020 @ 23:59
Course Name: Knowledge Management
Student’s Name:
Course Code: MGT 403
Student’s ID Number:
Semester: Ist
Academic Year: 1441/1442 H
For Instructor’s Use only
Instructor’s Name:
Students’ Grade: Marks Obtained/Out of
Level of Marks: High/Middle/Low
• The Assignment must be submitted on Blackboard (WORD format only) via allocated
Assignments submitted through email will not be accepted.
• Students are advised to make their work clear and well presented; marks may be
reduced for poor presentation. This includes filling your information on the cover page.
• Students must mention question number clearly in their answer.
• Late submission will NOT be accepted.
• Avoid plagiarism, the work should be in your own words, copying from students or
other resources without proper referencing will result in ZERO marks. No exceptions.
• All answered must be typed using Times New Roman (size 12, double-spaced) font.
No pictures containing text will be accepted and will be considered plagiarism).
• Submissions without this cover page will NOT be accepted.
Knowledge Management (MGT-403)
First Semester (2020-2021)
Course Learning Outcomes-Covered
4 Implement knowledge management cycle processes in organization (Lo 2.2 & 2.5).
5 Apply elements of core knowledge and learning organization principles (Lo 2.1).
6 Identify and analyze challenges and issues pertaining to community of practice (Lo 2.7).
Submission Guidelines
❖ All students are encouraged to use their own words.
❖ This assignment is individual assignment.
❖ Be very specific and focused on the issue while answering a question.
❖ Student must apply Saudi Electronic University academic writing standards and APA style
guidelines and review at least three (3) scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles to support their
answer for each question.
❖ A mark of zero will be given for any submission that includes copying from other resource
without referencing it.
❖ No marks will be given for irrelevant details.
❖ It is strongly encouraged that you should submit all assignments into the safe assignment
Originality Check prior to submitting it to your instructor for grading.
❖ If the assignment shows more than 25% plagiarism, the students would be graded zero.
Assignment 2.
The focus of the assignment is to evaluate the understanding level of students related to communities
of Practice, learning organization, Students are required to:
Read the material covered in Chapter 5 “Knowledge sharing and Communities of Practice”
thoroughly from book as well as other sources.
Use the following link besides other material to access the research paper titled, “Using
communities of practice towards the next level of knowledge-management maturity”
Assignment Questions
Besides chapter 5 material, use above journal link to access the research paper titled,
“Using communities of practice towards the next level of knowledge-management maturity”
and write an essay containing following points. (500-600 Words) (5 Marks)
a. Concept of communities of Practice.
b. Highlight key components of Community of Practice.
c. Roles and responsibilities in communities of practice.
d. Chief obstacles to knowledge sharing.
e. Concept of Learning Organization.
f. Paragraph about the organization used for case study purposes in the above article.
g. Summary of results / findings of case study.
h. The main recommendations of the study.
Communities of Practice
The key components of Community of Practice
Roles and responsibilities in communities of practice
Chief obstacles to knowledge sharing
Learning Organization
Paragraph about the organization used for case study purposes in the above article
Summary of results / findings of case study
The main recommendations of the study
Page 1 of 9
Original Research
Using communities of practice towards the next level of
knowledge-management maturity
Lameshnee Chetty1
Martie Mearns1
Centre for Information and
Knowledge Management,
University of Johannesburg,
South Africa
Correspondence to:
Martie Mearns
[email protected]
Background: Effective communities of practice undoubtedly impact organisations’ knowledge
management and contribute towards building a learning-organisation culture. Communities
of practice represent an environment conducive to learning and for exchanging ideas, and
they are a formal learning forum. However, the level of organisational learning to which
communities of practice contribute is difficult to measure.
Objectives: The research was conducted to analyse the impact of communities of practice
on building a learning organisation. The organisational system, culture and people offer
the key towards leveraging knowledge as a strategic resource in a learning organisation.
The awareness of the organisation concerning knowledge management was measured on a
replicated knowledge-management maturity model.
Postal address:
PO Box 524, Auckland Park
2006, South Africa
Method: The organisational knowledge base was analysed prior to the implementation of the
communities of practice and was compared to the situation three years later. The research was
based on experiential learning cycles that consisted of five consequential but perpetual stages,
namely reflect, plan, act, observe and reflect again.
Received: 04 Oct. 2011
Accepted: 10 May 2012
Published: 23 July 2012
Results: The results indicated that communities of practice were instrumental in leveraging the
organisation to the next level in the knowledge-management maturity model. A collaboration
framework was developed for each business unit to work towards a common goal by
harnessing the knowledge that was shared.
How to cite this article:
Chetty, L. & Mearns, M.,
2012, ‘Using communities
of practice towards the
next level of knowledge
management maturity’,
SA Journal of Information
Management 14(1), Art.
#503, 9 pages. http://dx.doi.
© 2012. The Authors.
Licensee: AOSIS
OpenJournals. This work
is licensed under the
Creative Commons
Attribution License.
Conclusion: Although a positive impact by communities of practice is visible, an instrument
for the measurement of intellectual capital is necessary. It is recommended that the monetary
value of knowledge as an asset is determined so that the value of the potential intellectual
capital can be measured.
Communities of practice (CoP) have become an imperative element in accumulating and
maintaining an organisation’s intellectual capital (IC) (Davel & Snyman 2005). Companies that
adopt a strategic approach instead of an opportunistic approach to managing their IC have
harnessed opportunities to improve their market position (Klein 1998:4, Kruger & Johnson
2011:269). Despite realising the importance of knowledge management, understanding how to
manage knowledge is still not an easy task for many organisations (Arling & Chun 2011:231).
CoPs are strategic knowledge-management tool utilised in an effort to capture and share tacit
knowledge (Wenger 2007). In essence, CoPs are proving to be a breakthrough for organisations
to identify and manage their tacit intellectual assets so that these can become explicit sources to
be utilised as IC. If CoPs are nurtured by management structures within organisations, they may
be able to generate knowledge as one of their greatest assets (Pearlson & Saunders 2006:287). The
sharing of information, thoughts and ideas based on a common goal in a CoP results in members
of the community gaining more knowledge and raising each other’s competence through sharing
(Burke 2000:18). The advantage of a CoP is that members of that community in an organisation
are peers and are alike for that reason, regardless of job titles and positions. This equality is the
result of the relationship on which a CoP is based. Employees are therefore able to naturally share
knowledge without trepidation or evaluation from other employees. Valuing the expertise and
the sharing of knowledge is seen as one of the characteristics of a knowledge-based organisation.
Where knowledge creation is at the centre of an organisation, the bridge between working and
innovation is learning.
A learning organisation is an organisation that learns vigorously and collectively, continually
transforming itself to more effectively manage knowledge and empower its people to learn
(Gilley & Maycunich 2000:14). Learning organisations are continually expanding their capacity
Page 2 of 9
to create their own future (Aktarsha & Anisa 2011:27,
Senge 1990:3). Such organisations are skilled at creating,
acquiring and transferring knowledge and at modifying
the organisation’s behaviour to reflect new knowledge and
insight (Garvin 1993:79, Smith 2011:7). Typical activities in
a learning organisation are systematic problem solving,
experimentation with new approaches, learning from
own and others’ experiences and transferring knowledge
efficiently. The steps that are required to become a learning
organisation include, firstly, the creation of an environment
that is conducive to learning. Secondly, the exchange of ideas
should be stimulated, and thirdly, learning forums should be
created (Garvin 1993:91; Wilson 2011:111).
MultiChoice is an example of a learning organisation that
favours the use of CoPs as a learning forum to exchange
ideas and create a learning environment to ultimately
capture and utilise intellectual assets. Using MultiChoice
as a case in point, this article argues that CoPs can make
a substantial contribution towards creating a learningorganisation culture. This argument is moulded around the
main research problem that was investigated, namely: What
contribution does CoPs make towards building a learning
organisation such as MultiChoice. In order to measure
whether MultiChoice has become a learning organisation,
it is important to determine MultiChoice’s level on the
knowledge-management maturity model (Snyman & Kruger
2005:10). This will gauge the organisation’s progress towards
being in a position to identify IC as a true business asset.
IC is considered to be one of the main drivers of knowledge
management. The objective of organisations should be to
maximise IC by linking it to knowledge management. Zhou
& Fink (2003:36) state that this objective can only be realised
if knowledge processes are managed methodically and with
intent. This article highlights the way in which MultiChoice
has used a knowledge-management tool such as CoP in
order to build more effective processes and capture tacit
knowledge to ultimately derive organisational IC.
Original Research
flows between the entities and the resulting knowledge
gaps that could then be identified. To ensure a good cross
section of all levels throughout the organisation, 55 oneon-one interviews were conducted, and 139 participants
were included in the focus-group discussions. The purpose
of the baseline assessment was to determine the level of
organisational learning in MultiChoice in an attempt to
understand the (then) current knowledge-management
processes of the organisation. It was furthermore necessary
to identify and understand the key drivers of business value
and to identify the areas of improvement and strategic gaps.
As a result of the baseline assessment, it was concluded
that there is an indication of an awareness of knowledge
management as an emerging business discipline. The
awareness of the capability of knowledge management to
improve MultiChoice’s performance, however, remained
low. Despite this low awareness, the overall interest in
knowledge management was high. This was supported by
the enthusiasm shown by interviewees in the baseline report
requesting to be kept informed of follow-up knowledgemanagement activities.
The baseline assessment also highlighted and supported
the fact that MultiChoice is familiar with many knowledgemanagement principles. In addition these knowledgemanagement principles are actively practiced. These include
the need to focus on the consistent application and improved
quality of knowledge-management principles across the
company. This meant that MultiChoice had to establish a
rigorous knowledge-management awareness campaign
within the organisation.
The knowledge-management pyramid of excellence (Figure 1)
was adopted as the agreed framework for knowledgemanagement implementation at MultiChoice. The framework
represents a systematic approach to implementing and
adopting six core knowledge-management principles.
Defining the case study
MultiChoice was founded in 1986 as a subscription television
service in South Africa and has as its mission the distribution
of digital media entertainment, content and services to
subscribers through multiple devices (MultiChoice 2010).
MultiChoice is a knowledge-intensive company that, in
2006, has formally embraced knowledge management. The
research for this article was conducted as a longitudinal
study drawing on the findings of a 2006 baseline report
(Hiscock 2006).
The position of knowledge management in MultiChoice
prior to the introduction of CoP had been analysed in
the 2006 baseline report conducted as a knowledge audit
(Hiscock 2006). Key stakeholders were identified throughout
the organisation. A combination of one-on-one interviews
and focus groups were completed to identify the knowledge
entities that existed within the organisation, the knowledge
Intellectual Business
asset 6 value
Best practices
knowledge levels
Reliable base of
best practices
Clear understanding
need for KM
Source: Adapted from Hiscock, M., 2006, ‘Knowledge management baseline assessment’,
Unpublished internal report for MultiChoice.
FIGURE 1: Pyramid of Excellence Framework and Maturity Model.
Page 3 of 9
The six core knowledge management principles are
strategic positioning, the establishment of best practices,
knowledge transfer, learning organisation, becoming a
specific measurable attainable realistic timely (SMART)
company and intellectual-asset management. These have
been combined with the knowledge-management maturity
model that is discussed later and shown in Figure 4, Figure 5
and Figure 6. Considering the baseline report, the third level,
namely knowledge transfer, showed that informal CoPs do
exist, but they could be further optimised to focus on specific
knowledge areas. It was also found that more CoPs could be
An analysis of the critical success factors of CoPs in
MultiChoice was conducted by Murphy (2008). Based on the
baseline study of Hiscock (2006) and building on the work
of Murphy (2008), a period of time had to elapse to assess
the level of organisational learning that the formalised CoPs
contributed. This article therefore reports on the results of the
investigation into the current level of organisational learning
that CoPs contribute to MultiChoice.
Research methods
In order to grasp the extent to which CoPs have impacted
on MultiChoice, the methodology had to interpret factual
reflections and opinions of the community members and
organisation. The research methodology used for this study
is primarily based on Participatory Action Research (PAR).
PAR is a method of research where creating an optimistic
social change is the principal driving force. Hughes and
Seymour-Rolls (2000) contend that:
PAR grew out of social and educational research [that] exists
today as one of the few research methods which embrace
principles of participation … reflection … empowerment and
emancipation of groups seeking to improve their social situation.
(p. 1)
The possibilities of using PAR in the information and
knowledge-management sciences are vast and entirely
appropriate. Firstly, a PAR project arises from the
practitioners themselves, the practitioners being the
participants who are chosen as the sample. The participants
become the basis of the actionable change, and their
qualitative feedback becomes the basis for the scientific
research outcomes. Secondly, PAR is research focussing on
developing new knowledge and theory (Hughes & SeymourRolls 2000, Genat 2009:102). Similarly CoPs are platforms
used as change enablers whilst continuously gaining new
knowledge by experiencing in practice or in action; this is not
unlike the action-learning groups which are utilised for PAR.
CoPs are therefore actually continuous, cyclic PAR projects.
The research design is based on Kolb’s Experiential Learning
Cycle (Kolb & Yeganeh 2011:4), which applies the approach
of participatory action research in the following stages:
• Reflect 1: The participants are engaged in a critical
evaluation process regarding what is currently happening
in the process that needs to be changed. The increased
understanding which emerges from this first session of
initial criticism is put to use in creating the later stages.
Original Research
• Plan: Subsequent to the feedback that has emerged in the
initial reflection stage, planning sessions then occur. The
action points are distributed and allocated to participants.
• Act: This phase is putting the plan into action. This is
where the changes are implemented as stipulated in the
reflection and planning phase.
• Observe: Observations are made by the participants on
the impact of their implementation plan. Observations
are based on whether prior assumptions were correct,
whether the team is working together and what impact
the implementation has had on other people in the
• Reflect 2: This is the second reflection phase of the initial
cycle. In this phase, observations are brought forward
and discussed with all participants, and a new plan is
suggested based on the new critics.
Focus groups (consisting of 10 members each) were applied
to document the stages of the experiential learning cycle in
the PAR approach. A purposive sample of two CoPs was
drawn from a possible five CoPs, and these acted as the focus
groups for the PAR sessions that were documented. The
two CoPs that participated in the research were the project
management (PM) CoP and the knowledge management
(KM) CoP. The criteria were included as part of the sample
stipulated that the CoPs should meet at least once in two
months. The subject matter experts of the CoPs and the
objective of the CoPs should be representative of each other,
and the CoPs should consist of more than five people.
In addition to focus groups, a survey was also utilised
to capture relevant information from an organisational
perspective. Each of the 11 business divisions within
MultiChoice has a knowledge champion, and each of the
11 knowledge champions was included in the survey.
Questionnaires were administered to the 11 knowledgemanagement champions, which resulted in a 90.9% response
rate. The survey aimed to achieve a holistic organisational
view of the role of CoPs in MultiChoice. The total sample
size for the data collection stage of this study was therefore
31 participants, two CoPs with 10 participants each and 11
knowledge champions.
Positioning knowledge
management, intellectual capital
and Communities of practice
In essence, knowledge management can be defined as a
dynamic, multi-disciplined approach towards achieving
organisational objectives by making the best, most efficient use
of knowledge. Earl (2001:218) has identified three knowledgemanagement schools of thought: technocratic, economic
and behavioural. The technocratic approach emphasises
technology-based information-management applications,
such as knowledge bases and organisational directories
disclosing the repositories and custodians of knowledge. The
economic approach focuses on the exploitation of knowledge
as an asset. The behavioural approach, to which MultiChoice
subscribes, focuses on business strategy and culture by
Page 4 of 9
facilitating knowledge exchange through communities and
awareness (Earl 2001:218).
The technocratic approach is however not ignored at
MultiChoice, but technology for knowledge sharing is
seen from a supportive perspective whilst the economic
slant of knowledge sharing is regarded as an outcome once
knowledge maturity is reached. There is therefore a focus on
the organisational system, culture and people as supported by
Carrillo (2004), Currie and Kerrin (2004) and Hwang (2005).
The people, culture and relationship of the organisation are
therefore key to IC.
Intellectual capital consists of human capital, which
encapsulates the knowledge and wisdom within the
employees of an organisation; the structural capital that
refers to the hardware, software and trademarks left behind
in an organisation once the employees have vacated; and the
relational capital referring to the relationships built up with
the customers and stakeholders. IC is often inadequately
identified and assessed because information is salvaged
in a dissimilar fashion, and fiscal reporting patterns are
frequently unsuccessful in recognising IC as an asset
(Industry Canada 1999). Bontis (1998:65) views human
capital as a source of innovation and strategic renewal,
saying that the essence of human capital lies in the sheer
intelligence and ingenuity of staff members. Using more of
what people know requires minimising mindless tasks and
bureaucracy. For Stevenson (1995), command and control
theories of management are inappropriate if human capital is
to be unleashed. Opportunities should be created for making
private knowledge public and tacit knowledge explicit
(Jeon, Kim & Koh 2011:12423). Informal as well as virtual
networks, relationships, forums and CoPs are all important
in harnessing what people know and leveraging it in an
organisation. It can therefore be concluded that a CoP is a
knowledge-management tool that can be utilised to harness
IC that exists within an organisation’s human capacity.
There have been various Intellectual Capital frameworks that
have been developed by pioneers in the field, such as Sveiby’s
Model (1997), Sullivan’s model (2000) and the Skandia
Intellectual Capital Value Scheme developed by Edvinson
(2002). The MultiChoice Intellectual Capital framework takes
into account a number of factors from the abovementioned
three models and is shown in Figure 2.
Taking the above framework into account, at MultiChoice,
IC is captured using CoPs that reside on the Innovation and
Knowledge Management levels.
According to Sandrock (2008:78), a community of practice
has three dimensions:
1. the domain, which is the topic of interest on which the
group wishes to collaborate
2. the members, the people that make up the community of
practice where they trust each other’s input and are willing
to share and investigate new ideas and methodologies
Original Research
(Business or
management plan)
Human capital
Corporate capital
Business capital
Functional capital
Customer capital
Strategic marketing
(Relationship or
marketing plan)
Supplier capital
Alliance capital
Investor capital
Source: Authors’ own data
FIGURE 2: MultiChoice’s Intellectual Capital Framework.
3. the community work, where the sharing of best practices
takes place, and members share experiences and are able
to fulfil the objective of the community of practice.
It is important to note that the most important role within the
above-mentioned dimensions is the responsibility of the CoP
coordinator. This person works hand in hand with the CoP
leader but has the additional task of making sure that the
community meets on a regular basis, is constantly updated,
the online community portal is up to date and relevant
information and collaboration takes place in a structured and
healthy manner.
Nickols (2003:4) specifies that there are two types of CoP,
sponsored and self-organising. Both types of CoP are alike
in their relations but are different in the way in which they
are formed. Sponsored CoPs are initiated and planned by
management, often a Chief Knowledge Officer. Once the
CoP is aware of and participates in the knowledge sharing
community, this type of CoP will develop into a selforganising CoP. Self-organising CoPs pursue the shared
interests of the group members whilst being self-governed
(Jeon, Kim & Koh 2011:12423). They are formed informally
in an organisation by a group of colleagues who might
share the same interest on a topic, industry or subject
matter. This type of CoP adds value to an organisation by
sharing lessons learnt, best practices and problem solving; in
essence, they learn from one another. The two CoPs studied
for this research are both sponsored CoPs, sponsored by
MultiChoice’s management.
Figure 3 demonstrates the cycle of learning that takes place
amongst members of a CoP. Knowledge capital is created
and utilised in an effort to perfect processes and skills.
Knowledge capital is generated by documenting knowledge
and validating the knowledge against employees’
experiences and expertise, thus resulting in a continuous
cycle of learning and adapting. Barab and Duffy (1998) call
this cycle of continuous learning ’practice fields‘. Knowledge
capital is applied to problem solving, quality assurance
and the leveraging of knowledge amongst employees. This
knowledge capital is then taken back to working groups and
teams to which each employee belongs in the organisation;
then it is applied.
Page 5 of 9
A direct link exists between learning in an organisation
and innovation. The knowledge-management maturity
model, according to Snyman and Kruger (2005:10), serves
as a methodology through which one can decipher how far
an organisation has evolved towards becoming a learning
organisation. Gallagher and Hazlett (2000) state that maturity
models are typically:
incremental in nature and represent an attempt to interpret a
succession of positions, phases or stages with regard to growth
and maturity, all with the ultimate aim of improving processes
and business performance. (p. 12)
This means that, in order for knowledge to be effectively
managed towards a higher level of maturity, organisations
must grow to such an extent that these organisations are
capable of leveraging knowledge as a strategic resource.
In addition, the use of knowledge management should be
applied in a productive way and in doing so enhance the
development of organisational competence and capabilities.
Figure 4 demonstrates Snyman and Kruger’s (2005:10)
strategic knowledge-management maturity model.
The four-stage process depicted in Figure 4 includes initiate,
be aware, manage and optimise. This reflects the dedication
of knowledge management in identifying and relating
knowledge-management issues to organisational growth and
profitability. Klimko (2001:269) refers to maturity modelling
as a developing process that depicts the growth of an entity
over a period of time. This includes explicitly defining,
managing, measuring and controlling the growth of an
entity. The MultiChoice knowledge-management maturity
model replicates Snyman and Kruger’s (2005:10) maturity
model in Figure 5.
When knowledge is not managed, it does not have the desired
impact on the business. However, if business strategies reflect
learning, knowledge excellence would have been reached.
Findings to plot the organisational
learning maturity
The two CoPs that participated in the PAR approach showed
valuable outputs from the reflection stages. The findings that
emanated from the experiential learning cycles for the project
management CoP showed the value of reflection, planning,
acting and observation that took place. The first finding
during the first experiential learning cycle for the project
management CoP indicated that participation in the CoP
needs to be encouraged. The development of an incentive
programme was planned and activated by establishing an
incentive scheme three months later. Members observed that
the incentive scheme promised high rewards. This needed to
be proven in a credible approach as participants did not believe
that such incentives existed. During the second experiential
learning cycle for the project management CoP, reflection on
the first finding indicated that the usage of the CoP’s virtual
site and overall awareness of the project management CoP
did not pick up after the incentive scheme was established.
In order to deal with the credibility of the incentives, a plan
Original Research
Knowledge capital applied
• Probelm solving
• Quality assurance
• Leveraging
Business processes, work
groups, teams
Communities of practice
Knowledge capital stewarded
• Sharing
• Documenting
• Validating
Source: Adated from Wenger, E., 2007, Communities of practise leaning as a social system,
viewed 14 June 2010, from
FIGURE 3: Multi-membership learning cycle of CoPs.
Phase one
ICT as an
enabler of
Phase two
on KM
Phase three
Ability to formulate
knowledge policy
Phase four
Phase five
of KM
Phase six
Source: Adapted from Snyman, M.M.M. & Kruger, C.J., 2005, ‘Formulation of a Strategic
Knowledge Management Maturity Model’, Journal of Knowledge Management 8(1), 5–10
FIGURE 4: Strategic knowledge management maturity model.
0 unknown
Knoweldge Unknown
Has no impact on the
2 managed
Knoweldge Managed
Strategic Leadership
and Direction
1 aware
Knoweldge Aware
Business need and
3 planned
Knoweldge Planned
Structured Reuse and
Cultural Footprint
4 excellence
Knoweldge Excellence
Business Strategies
Reflect Learning’s
Source: Authors’ own data
FIGURE 5: The MultiChoice Maturity Model.
was devised for using sponsors. Sponsors were responsible
to present the CoP’s strategic objectives and vision in
alignment with the corporate strategy and to meet with the
CoP to publicise the incentive. Further awareness campaigns
were planned via MultiChoice’s intranet. Controversy exists
in the literature on the practice of incentives and reward
systems for enhancing the quality of work. Some authors
are of the opinion that incentives and rewards are counterproductive to establishing an organisational culture in which
knowledge sharing is embedded (Gurteen 2010, Kohn 1999,
Page 6 of 9
Original Research
Pink 2010). Incentives and rewards are therefore aspects
that require further investigation in the field of knowledge
management. However, Stafford and Mearns (2009) reported
on individuals and teams responding positively to public
recognition within an organisation for contributions made to
knowledge-sharing initiatives and activities.
same principles as Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle. Each
stage in the collaboration framework would have a different
focus area. In the ‘learning’ stage, preparing the organisation
via learning courses, e-library and virtual counselling would
be the primary focal area.
The ‘act’ stage would enable people to work effectively and
efficiently towards a common goal. Participation would
be enabled over time and space using a virtual platform.
The three primary elements in the action phase were
identified as communication, workplace and co-ordination.
Communication is seen as the method by which messages
are conveyed over a platform, such as text, voice and video
chat, online conferencing, web casts, blog forum, RSS,
podcasts and e-mail. Workplace signifies the working area
shared between individuals, such as collaborative editing,
self-organising knowledge lists of project documents and
collaboration areas. Coordination is the management of
project tools, to-do calendars and workshops. The three
elements mentioned, communication, workplace and coordination, can be further re-used.
The second finding during the first experiential learning
cycle for the project management CoP indicated that there
were various project managers from different business units
working in silos, and the project management CoP wanted to
act as a platform for them to collaborate. There were existing
meetings to target the same objective, namely for project
managers to work in synergy rather than in silos. Even
though meetings were already scheduled with the same
purpose as that of the project management CoP, the structure
of the meetings did not follow a specific agenda and debates
usually went around in circles. There was no facilitator that
took responsibility for reaching any given objective. It was
planned that the meetings would therefore be pulled in under
the umbrella of the project management CoP in order to give
it more structure and to achieve the expected outcomes. This
reflection and plan still needs to be acted on for a second
experiential learning cycle to commence.
The reflection stage of the envisioned collaboration
framework is seen as the documentation, sharing and
re-use of experiences to improve the way in which CoP
members work. The reflection stage would probably be most
beneficially achieved by getting feedback on best practices,
constructive criticism and ways of working. All three
stages, namely learning, action and reflection, would be
underpinned and supported by social networking elements,
such as making expertise available online and through
The experiential learning cycle for the knowledge
management CoP indicated that, in order to assist the
organisation in learning and sharing best practices, in
sharing expertise online and in encouraging innovation,
a collaboration framework would have to be created. A
collaboration framework (Figure 6) was planned along the
Preparing the
Courses, Library, Virtual
Learning Objectives etc.
Enabling people to effectively and efficiently work towards a common goal.
Participation is enabled over time and place.
Text, Voice and Video Chat,
Online Conf, Web Cast, Blog
Forum, RSS, Pod Cast, Email,
SMS, MMS, Telephony,
Callaborative editing, Selforganising knowledge Lists
of project documents Project
Whiteboard collaboration
Project Mgmt Tools, To-do
Calendar, Workshop, Six
Stigma Process support
Primary focus of
collaboration strategy
Social Networking
Expertise Online, Communities of practices
Idea Management
Innovation & Operational Development
Source: Authors’ own data
FIGURE 6: The MultiChoice Collaboration Framework.
Document and share
experiences for reuse
Improve how we work
Best Practices, Good
Practices, Ways of Working
Page 7 of 9
virtual CoPs. The three stages would be further supported
by idea management, which is continuous innovation and
operational development working towards operational
excellence. The members were of the opinion that building the
collaboration platform would be less demanding. However,
there was a perception that the content management and
collaboration aspects will be more tedious efforts.
Due to the comprehensive nature of the plan that was
designed to assist the organisation to learn and share, an
entire experiential learning cycle has not yet been completed.
The collaboration framework was being acted on at the
time of the writing of this article. The virtual collaboration
platform was initiated by the knowledge management CoP,
and plans to pilot the framework and test the applicability
was underway. Lessons learnt from the pilot test will be
taken into account for the organisation-wide roll out.
The survey conducted with the 11 knowledge-management
champions indicated that 9 respondents recognise knowledge
management as a business tool and therefore acknowledge
the significant contribution that knowledge management
can make. Eight respondents were of the opinion that CoPs
benefit the business and elaborated that CoPs added value to
business processes and facilitated a culture of transparency.
Eight respondents had one to two years of experience with
CoPs, given the reality that CoPs only gained attention three
years prior to the commencement of the research project.
Considering that only two of the 11 knowledge champions
that were interviewed did not recognise the importance of
the contribution that CoPs and knowledge management
made within the organisation begs the question whether
these two knowledge champions adhered to the criteria that
were used to select knowledge champions. When asking
whether CoPs were established and managed more regularly
on a face to face or a virtual basis, the results showed that the
existing CoPs interact on a face to face level more regularly
than a virtual level.
On an organisational level, the role of CoPs in MultiChoice
is largely seen in a positive, and the perception exist that it is
beneficial to the business processes. It is in the organisation’s
best interest to continuously monitor the attitudes and
perceptions of employees regarding the use of CoPs to
establish whether these continue to serve their purpose in
knowledge sharing and the management of the organisation’s
intellectual assets.
Sandrock (2008:79) suggest that the following activities
are conducted within a CoP to assist in building a learning
• Assisting with knowledge mapping: This is defined as
networking and building on knowledge expertise within
the organisation and accumulating this information in a
database for future reference. The knowledge database
for CoPs are not extensively utilised as the survey results
indicates that 60% of the participants do not believe
that there is a divisional platform to share information
in MultiChoice. The development of the collaboration
Original Research
platform, which is a result of the PAR group interaction,
will be able to accomplish the CoPs goal of becoming
learning organisations via knowledge mapping.
• Process mapping: Each division has a fundamental
process that should be mapped in a CoP. It is clear from
the PAR focus groups that members do believe that CoPs
assist with validating and improving business processes.
However the extent to which this is done has not been
made explicit and further investigation is required.
• Determining best practices: What serves as a good
practice in one business unit could potentially lead to a
best practice for the rest of the organisation to implement.
It is clear from the PAR focus groups held that the
members do believe that best practices can materialise
from CoPs. One such best practice is the development of
the collaboration framework as suggested in the planning
phase of the experiential learning cycle for the knowledge
management CoPs.
• Captured shared learning: CoPs are good places to share
experiences and lessons learnt. Results from the survey’s
responses to the question whether respondents view CoPs
as adding value to the business indicated that, through
lessons learnt, shared experiences and how work is done,
there is a perception that CoPs are of value. Furthermore
during the PAR group sessions, the project-management
CoP indicated that the platform for project managers to
collaborate serves as an effective tool to share lessons
learnt. The knowledge-management CoP, had similar
feedback to the effectiveness of collaboration platforms to
capture lessons learnt.
The results of the 2006 baseline report indicated that
MultiChoice implemented CoPs to overcome some of the
perceived challenges. Challenges included employees
expressing the need to share knowledge and experience,
but they were of the opinion that they did not have the time
to do that. Further challenges showed that information and
knowledge need to be shared and communicated in a closer,
innovative, collaborative environment, across departmental
silos, and internal communication needs attention with the
requirement for more innovative means of communication.
The results of the survey signified that CoPs are seen as
valuable to the business. The transparency which is created
0 unknown
Knoweldge Unknown
Has no impact on the
2 managed
Knoweldge Managed
Strategic Leadership
and Direction
1 aware
4 excellence
3 planned
Knoweldge Planned
Knoweldge Excellence Structured Reuse and
Business Strategies Cultural Footprint
Reflect Learning’s
Knoweldge Aware
Business need and
Source: Authors’ own data
FIGURE 7: Maturity level of MultiChoice.
Page 8 of 9
by CoPs lead to more learning across the organisation since
business units work together rather than in silos. The problem
of the retention of intellectual property and the overall
threat of losing skills and knowledge to competitors and
the market, both permanent and contract-based employees,
are recognised. The results from the survey and focus group
discussions indicated that MultiChoice has progressed one
level on the knowledge-management maturity model and
has entered level two (Figure 7).
This means that MultiChoice has grown from a level of
being unaware, during the 2006 baseline study, to a level
of having limited awareness of knowledge management. A
level of awareness has been created, and the significance of
knowledge management as a vital business tool has recently
been realised. The next level of achievement for MultiChoice
is to reach the ’knowledge managed‘ level as indicated in
Figure 7. The typical activities in a learning organisation
have become more prevalent in MultiChoice since the initial
baseline study. The environment that has been created
through CoPs to solve problems systematically and the
experimentation with new approaches is another step for
MultiChoice towards becoming a learning organisation.
An organisation needs to mature its knowledge capabilities
and measure its knowledge assets if it is interested in
determining its intellectual capital (Ngosi, Helfert & Braganza
2011:302). Kruger and Johnson (2011:270) see knowledgemanagement maturity not only in terms of growing
capability, but they focus on the richness and consistency of
execution in reaching an idealistic ultimate state of processes
being defined, managed, measured and controlled.
Recommendations and conclusion
implementation at MultiChoice has been a relatively slow
process, yet the next level in the knowledge management
maturity model, namely knowledge managed through
strategic leadership and direction, is within reach. The
existence of CoPs played a significant role in stimulating
the awareness that knowledge management plays a vital
role in the business, bringing the organisation one step
closer to becoming a true learning organisation. The use of
participatory action research as a relevant methodology for
knowledge-management research was also proven through
CoPs acting as action learning groups in themselves that
learn from experience and actions through the experiential
learning cycle. In fact, the experiential learning cycle was
adopted as a collaboration framework to encourage the
online sharing of expertise and innovation. It is evident from
the results that CoPs in MultiChoice have a significant role to
play and will become increasingly valuable.
CoPs offer both virtual and face-to-face platforms where
sharing and consequently learning takes place so that the
bridge between working and innovation can be created.
CoPs form powerful and collective knowledge-sharing
opportunities, and the knowledge can be effectively
Original Research
managed, especially in a virtual environment. Thus,
empowering people to learn can act as an impetus generating
the drive towards becoming a learning organisation. CoPs
are instrumental in creating, acquiring and transferring
knowledge and in modifying the organisation’s behaviour
to reflect new knowledge and insight, thereby expanding its
capacity to create its own future. The steps that are required
to become a learning organisation are embedded in the very
nature of CoPs in, firstly, being a platform that creates an
environment that is conducive to learning. Secondly, the
exchange of ideas is stimulated, seeing that it is the actual
reason why CoPs are formed. Thirdly, with the sharing of
ideas in CoPs, they become learning forums where new
knowledge leads to innovation.
Lessons learnt from this research at MultiChoice include
some findings that can be generalised. CoPs should be in
a mature phase of the knowledge-management maturity
model to be in a position to be measured fiscally. Fiscal
proof indicating the monetary value of the IC encapsulated
within the CoP exchanges of any organisation can only be
established when the CoPs have progressed through a
specific time frame. Three time frames within knowledge
management have become apparent from this research. The
first time frame is dependant on quantity in a process to get
as much input from CoPs as possible. The second time frame
is typified by quality, when the company is sifting through
the numerous inputs gathered during the quantity phase so
that valuable, reusable contributions can be extracted. The
third time frame represents measurements, the process that
takes the quality extracted from the quantity and measures
the return on investment, therefore measuring reusable
inputs. This remains a process that happens over time, and
organisations need to assess their status within these time
frames to establish their next step. The final finding that can
be generalised from this research is that PAR as a researchdesign approach has been shown as a very valuable technique
in the field of knowledge-management research.
The results of this research point toward the significant role
that CoPs play in creating a learning organisation. However,
the actual impact, especially how to establish the extent of
value-added by CoPs, require further fiscal investigation to
determine a monetary value. Fiscal value will be established
when direct IC can be measured. In the words of Winston
Churchill: ’However beautiful the strategy one must
occasionally look at the results.’ The monetary value of
knowledge as an asset needs to be ascertained.
Competing interests
The authors declare that they have no financial or personal
relationship(s) which may have inappropriately influenced
them in writing this paper.
Authors’ contributions
L.C. (University of Johannesburg) conducted the research
as a postgraduate student under the supervision of
Page 9 of 9
Original Research
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