Friday, 23 November 2012


4 types of embeddedness in networks of practice


Coins embedded in a tree @ Longshaw Estate, Derbyshire Here is a really interesting article about the management of Networks of Practice (Communities of Practice) in the development sector, and how to draw the balance between managing them too much, or too little.

The authors (Marlous Agterberg, Bart van den Hooff, Marleen Huysman and Maura Soekijad from the University of Amsterdam) come up with an interesting model, where they recognised four forms of "Embeddedness" which they believe are important to the effective operation of these networks. They describe these as follows

  • Organizational embeddedness: the extent to which the knowledge shared in the network is relevant for and integrated in the formal organization. Further divided  as follows
    • Institutionalization - the extent to which outcomes of the network can be applied in the formal organization as rules, routines, strategies, etc
    • Relevance for organization Extent to which knowledge sharing in the network is considered valuable for the organization
  •  Embeddedness in practice: the extent to which the knowledge shared in the network is relevant for and integrated in the dispersed, local practices of network members. Further divided into 
    • Relevance to practice - Extent to which knowledge sharing in the network is immersed in the daily local practices of members ‘
    • Common practices - Extent to which the network members use the same practices
  •  Relational embeddedness: the extent to which the network is characterized by strong social ties  and elements such as trust, mutual expectations, and identification. Further divided into 
    • Group feeling - Extent to which members feel they belong to the same group 
    • Trust -  Feelings of safety and trust in the network 
    •  Reciprocity - Willingness of network members to help other members
    • Face-to-face contact - Amount and possibilities of face-to-face contacts among network members
  • Structural embeddedness: the extent to which network members are connected to one another and know who knows what and how to reach them. Further divided into 
    • Connectedness - Extent to which members are connected to one another
    • Know who is where and knows what - Extent to which members know who knows what in the network and how to reach these people
These are all very interesting, and should be considered when setting up, running or managing communities of practice.

2 comments:

  1. A bit puzzled wrt face-to-face contact, is this really a measure of social ties in an occupational setting?

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  2. Hi Nick,

    thank you for pointing to this article. The findings that they have described resonate strongly with conclusions that we have arrived to after a year of investigation into CoPs at my company. Particularly in regards to management interventions in "structural embeddedness", members of our CoPs "demand" that managment renders a visible support and work as active agents in "connectedness" and "who is where and knows what."

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