ANEW WORD IS CROPPING UP with ever-increasing frequency in current business jargon. The word is community. We are being bombarded with new communities: communities of practice, knowledge communities, communities of commerce, communities of learning, communities of interest, and professional communities. Some people, including Jim Botkin, president of Interclass—a knowledge community of companies in different industries seeking to understand and implement organizational learning—maintain that it is “the next big thing” in organizational theory and practice.1 Communities weave the organization around knowledge independently of any existing structures. In ten years’ time, some predict, communities will be as natural ...

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