Implementing communities of practice in the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Implementing communities of practice in the Georgia Department of Transportation.

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    This study explored strategies through which the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) can develop communities of practice to help managers facilitate critical exchanges of knowledge, support organization learning, and ultimately achieve improvements in performance outcomes. Communities of practice (COPs) are groups of professionals working on behalf of an organization, who develop on-going informal knowledge ex0changes as a means of learning about and performing key job-related processes and skills. The study consisted of five main objectives: 1) to map the incidence of COP in GDOT, 2) to monitor patterns of knowledge flows through COPs, 3) to assess the costs and benefits of COP, 4) to develop a strategy for application of SharePoint to the development of COPs and 5) to assess the impact of employee retirements on knowledge retention. The study identified the practices and functions of four communities of practice within GDOT. Strategies for supporting COPs through training and the creation of SharePoint sites were applied to two of the COPs. The effectiveness of these strategies was tested by comparing the two COPs who received interventions with the two COPs with no interventions. The findings indicate that investing in communities of practice can lead to improved performance and operational efficiency. This finding was most pronounced in decentralized communities of practice where personnel are spread widely across many offices and locations within GDOT. Much of the role of supporting COPs, we find, occurs through providing increased authoritative support, improved definition of roles, and adaptation of COP knowledge to job-related skills.
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