Communities of Practice: A Critical Perspective on Collaboration
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The importance of collaboration had been widely recognized but its nature has remained obscure. This chapter suggests that an appropriate level of analysis for collaboration research would be social interaction and the optimal unit of analysis would be communities of practice. Such a sociocultural approach departs from the traditional positivist approach, which echoes the long-standing conflict between postmodernism and modernism. Principles of organization in traditional institutions and communities of practice are then contrasted. The differences among coordination, cooperation, and collaboration are presented, suggesting that the prototypical form of collaboration locate in communities of practice. Finally, a new look at the relationships between collaboration and learning, collaboration and innovation is extended to describe the workspace created by communities of practice. 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.