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The Discursive Construction of Communities of Practice

Christakos, Athanasios LU and Klausch, Eric LU (2018) BUSN49 20181
Department of Business Administration
Abstract
Communities of Practice (CoPs) have been featured heavily in the literature of organisational learning and knowledge sharing in recent years. However, the concept denotes a paradigmshifting learning theory that goes beyond a mere management tool. In the present text, we review the CoP literature and argue that it lacks an elaborate explanation of CoPs’ organisation, resorting to saying they are ‘self-organising’ and ‘fluid’ or conceptualising them as part of another organisation, and not one of its own right. We address this issue by considering another shortcoming of the literature, that of incorporation of power in comprehensive analysis. To do that, we use an organisational discourse approach, positing the organisation of CoPs as... (More)
Communities of Practice (CoPs) have been featured heavily in the literature of organisational learning and knowledge sharing in recent years. However, the concept denotes a paradigmshifting learning theory that goes beyond a mere management tool. In the present text, we review the CoP literature and argue that it lacks an elaborate explanation of CoPs’ organisation, resorting to saying they are ‘self-organising’ and ‘fluid’ or conceptualising them as part of another organisation, and not one of its own right. We address this issue by considering another shortcoming of the literature, that of incorporation of power in comprehensive analysis. To do that, we use an organisational discourse approach, positing the organisation of CoPs as discursively constructed, using power and culture as counter-balancing concepts. Our main thesis then is that organisation in CoPs emerges from the participation of members in the practice and the interplay of relations of power, given the CoPs’ specific and negotiable cultural context. Besides reviewing the literature and theorising an appropriate theoretical framework, we empirically investigate a unique, decentralised and autonomous CoP, that of competitive university debating. Debating is a practice that is, at its core, both discursive, voluntary and competitive, offering an opportunity to investigate our thesis on the basis of the community tied to it. We deploy an interpretivist and reflexive approach, wherein we conduct intertextual analysis based on interview accounts, alongside observations of competitions and online discourse. To present our findings we use dramatism, reconstructing the rhetorical vision or fantasy that guides the community, as well as a basic narrative of the acts involved in engaging the community, using the pentad of rhetorical analysis. Additionally, we provide a brief explanation of key terms used in debating. Subsequently, this allows for discussing the role of discourse, culture and power in the context of the negotiation of meaning and participation of CoPs. Our findings indicate that, ironically, proficiency in discourse does not absolve a community of issues of power and cultural bias, confirming our thesis. Specifically, we show how, due to perceived superior competence and the social capital that accrues with it, the negotiation of meaning is skewed in favour of an elite group that primarily socialise amongst themselves and that inclusive cultural preferences are negated. Our results and discussion may then prove useful in future conceptualisations of CoPs using a discursive perspective. (Less)
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author
Christakos, Athanasios LU and Klausch, Eric LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
Power, Culture & the Negotiation of Meaning in the Debating Community
course
BUSN49 20181
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
Discourse, Culture, Power, Meaning
language
English
id
8957685
date added to LUP
2018-09-06 15:08:57
date last changed
2018-09-06 15:08:57
@misc{8957685,
  abstract     = {Communities of Practice (CoPs) have been featured heavily in the literature of organisational learning and knowledge sharing in recent years. However, the concept denotes a paradigmshifting learning theory that goes beyond a mere management tool. In the present text, we review the CoP literature and argue that it lacks an elaborate explanation of CoPs’ organisation, resorting to saying they are ‘self-organising’ and ‘fluid’ or conceptualising them as part of another organisation, and not one of its own right. We address this issue by considering another shortcoming of the literature, that of incorporation of power in comprehensive analysis. To do that, we use an organisational discourse approach, positing the organisation of CoPs as discursively constructed, using power and culture as counter-balancing concepts. Our main thesis then is that organisation in CoPs emerges from the participation of members in the practice and the interplay of relations of power, given the CoPs’ specific and negotiable cultural context. Besides reviewing the literature and theorising an appropriate theoretical framework, we empirically investigate a unique, decentralised and autonomous CoP, that of competitive university debating. Debating is a practice that is, at its core, both discursive, voluntary and competitive, offering an opportunity to investigate our thesis on the basis of the community tied to it. We deploy an interpretivist and reflexive approach, wherein we conduct intertextual analysis based on interview accounts, alongside observations of competitions and online discourse. To present our findings we use dramatism, reconstructing the rhetorical vision or fantasy that guides the community, as well as a basic narrative of the acts involved in engaging the community, using the pentad of rhetorical analysis. Additionally, we provide a brief explanation of key terms used in debating. Subsequently, this allows for discussing the role of discourse, culture and power in the context of the negotiation of meaning and participation of CoPs. Our findings indicate that, ironically, proficiency in discourse does not absolve a community of issues of power and cultural bias, confirming our thesis. Specifically, we show how, due to perceived superior competence and the social capital that accrues with it, the negotiation of meaning is skewed in favour of an elite group that primarily socialise amongst themselves and that inclusive cultural preferences are negated. Our results and discussion may then prove useful in future conceptualisations of CoPs using a discursive perspective.},
  author       = {Christakos, Athanasios and Klausch, Eric},
  keyword      = {Discourse,Culture,Power,Meaning},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Discursive Construction of Communities of Practice},
  year         = {2018},
}