Need help with my writing homework on Communities of Practice versus Social Capital. Write a 1750 word paper answering; Today, the terms of organizational development have been differentiated. Innovation and learning have become key elements of organizational performance. In the past, innovation and learning were promoted using standardized policies, such as research and development, training programs and so on. Currently, the development of innovation and learning within organizations is mostly based on social networking. At the same time, concepts like communities of practice and social capital have been used for reflecting the key role of social networks in enabling organizations to learn and innovate. The above two concepts, the ‘communities of practice’ and the ‘social capital’ are compared in this paper. Their similarities and differences are presented and evaluated, using relevant literature. Moreover, the challenges that an organization is likely to face when participating in social networks are analytically discussed. It is revealed that social networking is critical for organizational success under the terms that it is aligned with organizational ethics and culture. 2. “Communities of practice” versus “social capital” Communities of practice can be used along with other concepts, such as the ‘social capital’ concept, for highlighting the importance of social networking in promoting innovation and learning within organizations. However, the two concepts may be differentiated, as of their requirements or their priorities. This fact is made clearer by comparing the elements of ‘communities of practice’, as described above, with the elements of ‘social capital’. The first of the above concepts, the ‘communities of practice’ is based on the view that ‘learning starts with engagement in social practice and that this practice is the fundamental construct by which individuals learn’ (Wenger 1998, in Langer 2005, p.77). In the context of the above framework, the achievement of the organization’s goals is based on the initiatives of teams that have ‘a shared way of pursuing interest’ (Langer 2005, p.77). On the other hand, the term ‘social capital’ is used for reflecting two different functions: the promotion of specific social structures and ‘the facilitation of certain actions of the actors’ (Coleman, 1988, p.98). The term ‘actors’, as used above, implies both individuals and organizations (Coleman 1988). From another point of view, social capital can be characterized as ‘an asset that emanates from participation in social relations’ (Nielsen 2003, p.2). In other words, social capital can be a quite wide concept, reflecting all activities of individuals, as members of a particular organization. However, in the context of social capital individuals, as actors, are not necessarily members of a team, as in the case of the communities of practice, a fact that offers them higher flexibility in acting as they wish. Moreover, in accordance with Al-Ali (2003), employees tend ‘to form informal communities or networks all the time’ (Al-Ali 2003, p.91). These networks are used for the development of various organizational tasks, more or less important. This means that the control of organization over the rules and the form of communities of practice may be difficult, especially if they are used for supporting temporary organizational needs (Al-Ali 2003). .
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