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Communities of practice

Abstract: 'Communities of practice' describe the informal settings in which people learn by doing. Introduced by Etienne Wenger in his book 'Situated Learning,' the concept maintains that learning is a social process and that it takes place on the job. He proposes that people who work together eventually develop a shared understanding of how work should be accomplished. They come to form a mutual identity that clarifies to them who they are and what their place is within the larger organization. Such hidden associations among workers foster some of the most important and creative work-related learning. Wenger maintains that 'communities of learning' are not created but occur naturally when people work together. The best way for management to promote the growth of these communities is to do nothing and just allow them to develop on their own.