What is a CoP?

What is a Community of Practice? 

Communities of Practice (CoP) are groups of volunteer participants that have an ongoing interaction around a shared concern (1).  CoPs provide an environment in which professionals can share their practice experiences, develop and discuss areas of interests and build a sense of community (2). 

A community of practice was a term first coined by Etienne Wenger, an education practitioner and academic, who described CoP as “Groups of people who share a passion for something that they know how to do and who interact regularly to learn how to do it better”. The successful CoP requires members to be participatory and is essentially lead by its members. It is the member’s responsibility to ensure   that the CoP stays relevant, engaging and offers value to the domain of interest (3). 

CoPs were initially developed to exchange information and knowledge but more recently are being used as tools to improve clinical and public health practice and to facilitate the implementation of evidence based practice. CoPs are being increasingly used in a range of areas from child welfare to education, business and public health (2, 4).  
  1. Wenger E, McDermott R, Snyder W. Cultivating Communities of Practice: a Guide to Managing knowledge (Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA). Amy HI Lee received the MBA degree from the University of British Columbia, Canada, in. 2002. 
  2. CDC. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/phcommunities/resourcekit/intro/index.html.
  3. Wenger E, McDermott R, Snyder WM. Seven principles for cultivating communities of practice. Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge. 2002. 
  4. Elliott W, Finsel C. Communities of Practice

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