The Types of Communities of Practice

Based on my research, the types of communities of practice that are out there varies from site to site. Below are the different types explained in detail from the different sources:



The different types of communities are:

  • Interest: Communities of people who share the same common interest or passion – e.g. Manchester United supporters, Playstation
  • Action: Communities of people trying to bring about change  – a community with a goal to use collective power to make a change in the world – e.g. Oxfam, TreeHugger etc.
  • Place: Communities of people brought together by geographic boundaries – community of people united by geography – e.g. NextDoor
  • Practice: Communities of people in the same profession or undertake the same activities – focus on what’s new and what’s proven, they search for credible expertise and agreed domain of knowledge – e.g. Connected Educators, Design Spark and TES Connect
  • Circumstance: Communities of people brought together by external events or situations – community brought together by a common situation or challenge not of their making – e.g.



The Two Types of Communities of Practice:

  1. Self-organised
  2. Sponsored COPs


  • self-governing
  • pursue shared interests of the group
  • add value to an organisation by
    • shared lessons learned
    • acting as distribution points for best and emerging practices
    • providing forums where issues and problems can be raised and resolved
    • learning from each other
    • voluntary, informal
    • they can be fragile, yet extremely resilient – attempts to manage or control them can result in group members disbanding or working “underground” without sharing expertise and knowledge more broadly – members come and go as interests and issues shift or evolve. Over time they adapt.

Sponsored COPs:

  • initiated, chartered and supported by management
  • expected to support measurable results that benefit the company
  • they get the resources they need
  • they have more formal roles and responsibilities
  • they are more self-governing and wide ranging than the typical project team
  • Objectives
    • enable colleagues to learn from one another – sharing issues, lessons learned, ideas, problems, their solutions, research findings etc.
    • to more broadly share and better leverage the learning that occurs in the CoP with other colleagues
    • to generate tangible, measurable, value-added benefits to the business

Aims/Missions of all COPs:

  • stimulating interaction
  • fostering learning
  • creating new knowledge 
  • socializing new members 
  • identifying and sharing best practices

Why do people organize COPs in organisations?

  • An industry such as automotive banking, healthcare, travel
  • A profession such as engineering, law, medicine, research
  • A work-related function such as supplier management, production, distribution, customer service, sales
  • A reoccurring problem situated in a function or process
  • A topic such as technology, innovation etc.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s