The Communal Resource

The remainder of this chapter examines the role a community plays in explaining why people share knowledge in organizations. A brief review is provided of some of the key literature on communities within and outside the organizational context, followed by a discussion on how diverse and distributed interests may influence knowledge sharing in communities. Assuming that organizations are populated by people with dynamic rather than static interests, the chapter ends with an examination of how opportunity structures and the social norms of care and authenticity could have a positive impact on knowledge sharing.

The term ‘community’ is derived from a classical sociological premise that people form social bonds through shared norms, traditions, identity, and solidarity. Historically, the concept of community stands in contrast to society, where competition, individualism, and self-interest rule (Toennies, 1887; Durkheim, 1893; Weber, 1978). Communities have their own languages, rituals, norms, and values that can only be developed and refined over a long period of time. Members of a community develop a shared and deep sense of identity through intense and sustained communication. Interestingly, this deep sense of identity, and the traditions, solidarity, and long-standing norms that come with it, can create a binding commitment among community members to mobilize large-scale societal changes. Sociologists have noted that when people experience grievances, or entrepreneurs ...

Get Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management, Second Edition now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.