Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Library and Information Science


This paper outlines a typology for use in the qualitative assessment of communities of practice (COPs). COPs are groups of people who meet together to share knowledge and solve problems around a similar interest, and they are essential to intellectual capital development within organizations. This paper types COPs along two dimensions: trust and risk. These dimensions are used to analyze a COPs capacity for learning and collaboration outcomes. Trust requires an environment that fosters openness toward good and bad ideas, mistakes and accomplishments, and a structure that it is negotiated and agreed upon by the self-initiated membership. Productive inquiry provides the baseline for measurement and recognition of risk capacity within a COP. By typing COPs along the dimensions of trust and risk, it will be possible to estimate a given COPs strengths and weaknesses. This can answer the question of what types of groups are more likely to achieve success along these qualitative lines of learning and collaboration. Focus groups are offered as a means of this qualitative assessment.