Social Media Use in Communities of Practice: insights from an Engineering Service Company

Kathrin Kirchner, Rasmus Jørgensen, Lotte Christina Breengaard, Ettore Bolisani, Enrico Scarso*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


The use of Communities of Practice (CoPs) to support knowledge sharing and collaboration within organisations has been increasing over the years. Today, many different companies from various sectors are deliberately resorting to CoPs to better managing cognitive assets and improving business performance. In particular, the availability of the new web-based technologies, like for example Enterprise Social Media platforms, are promoting the widespread utilisation of virtual CoPs, i.e. CoPs that make 2 use of ICTs to enable distant and asynchronous communications among members. Even though the “marriage” of Social Media with CoPs seems to be perfect, studies that investigate the use of the new social applications in the context of CoPs are still scarce. To contribute to fill this gap, the present paper analyses the factors that influence the frequency of CoP access by means of a Social Media platform. Specifically, the paper illustrates and discusses the results of a survey which involved 262 employees of an international engineering project-based service company that eight years ago established several global CoPs in order to improve internal knowledge exchange and collaboration processes. At present, inside the company there are 20 active communities, involving about 1,400 project execution employees, whose functioning is supported by a Social Media platform dubbed Connect. The survey, that included 22 questions, was administered online between September and October 2018. The findings of the survey have allowed to identify some factors that result to be strictly correlated with the frequency of use of the Social Media platform to interact with the others community members. Among others these are: position in the company, role inside the community, individual motivation, kind of use, perceived technical and organizational obstacles. The paper contributes to advance the research about the adoption of Social Media technologies as knowledge management tools by identifying some factors that influence their use inside a CoP. It also provides useful suggestions to managers who intend to promote the development of Social Media enabled virtual Communities of Practices. The main limitation of the study is that it bases on the experience of only one company working in a specific industry with specific knowledge needs and capabilities.
In spite of this, the findings provide interesting insights that can be a basis for future investigations as well as suggestions to managers willing to create and sustain virtual CoPs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 14th International Forum on Knowledge Asset Dynamics (IFKAD)
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)978-88-96687-12-3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event14th International Forum on Knowledge Asset Dynamics - Matera, Italy
Duration: 9 Sept 201911 Sept 2019


Conference14th International Forum on Knowledge Asset Dynamics


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