Management fads, communities of practice and innovation
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This chapter introduces communities of practice (CoPs) as a useful framework for the elucidation of the innovation process in organizations. It argues that CoPs contribute to innovation through being more efficient than formal organizational structures. Innovation, however, comes in different forms and types and internal CoPs are more relevant for incremental innovation, while inter-organizational communities are more important for radical innovation. Furthermore the chapter focuses on a critical evaluation of the concept of community of practice through the lens of the management fashion theory and an assessment of the role of CoPs in knowledge creation and exchange at the various stages of the innovation process. It aims to provide an assessment of the contribution of communities of practice to innovation success and organizational performance and to summarize the current trends and future developments especially in inter-organizational virtual innovation communities.