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Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger


The concept of Communities of practice was first used as a way of explaining the
dynamic social learning relationship experienced between master and
apprenticeship. It is now used to describe a ‘learning community’.


A CoP develops around things that matter to its members. It is an informal way
of sharing knowledge and ‘know how’ across an organisation. They are a ‘living
data-base’. There may be many CoPs within an organisation that cross over
hierarchical and traditional organisational structure. CoP’s have no fixed life
cycle. They only exist while they have value and usefulness.

The Life Cycle of a CoP



Further Resources

Myron Rogers, of the Phillips Kay Partnership, has been working with the South London
Health Innovation Network developing pan-London Patient Safety Communities of Practice.
This brochure, co-authored by Myron, describes the work, and includes
a comprehensive conceptual and practical guide for cultivating Communities of Practice.

Communities of Practice

Connected themes

Connected theories


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