Network mapping to build communities of practice

A summary of

Norman, C. & Huerta, T. (2006). Knowledge transfer and exchange through social networks: Building foundations for a community of practice within tobacco control. Implementation Science, 1(20). doi:10.1186/1748-5908-1-20

How to cite this NCCMT summary:

National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (2010). Network mapping to build communities of practice. Hamilton, ON: McMaster University. (Updated 28 April, 2010) Retrieved from http://www.nccmt.ca/resources/search/40.

Categories: Method, Knowledge exchange

These summaries are written by the NCCMT to condense and to provide an overview of the resources listed in the Registry of Methods and Tools and to give suggestions for their use in a public health context. For more information on individual methods and tools included in the review, please consult the authors/developers of the original resources.

Relevance for Public Health

Communities of practice (CoPs) provide opportunities for knowledge transfer and exchange activities in public health. This strategy will be useful to those who are planning and developing CoPs that include multiple sectors and involve the collaboration of many disciplines. Individuals and organizations involved in health promotion and disease prevention across geographically dispersed communities/ populations may find this approach especially useful.

Description

This resource describes a strategy (method) for organizing individuals and organizations around a common purpose or goal. The researchers used a network mapping model to facilitate the development of a community of practice (CoP) around smoking prevention and cessation [Web-assisted tobacco intervention (WATI)]. CoPs are self-organizing, adaptive and responsive learning systems. They use simple rules and procedures to guide collective learning across organizations. This learning can occur when individuals with different but complimentary skills and expertise actively share their knowledge. The method draws on social networking methodology, complexity theory, science of networks and organizational behaviour. It can help with planning, organizing and evaluating knowledge dissemination and exchange strategies involving CoPs.

Implementing the Method/Tool
Steps for Using Method/Tool

The authors suggest the following steps:

  • Hold/host/organize an interactive meeting and educational session for individuals/ organizations sharing a common area of interest.
  • Determine participants’ expectations and knowledge, the nature, frequency and intensity of their relationships and their motivation for collaborating.
  • Use network analysis procedures to produce and present a network map of the participants and other potential members of the CoP, including the strength, direction and centrality of their relationships.
  • Extend the network by engaging peripheral stakeholders (increase the number of links).
  • Develop core activities and communication processes for the CoP.
  • Work through the stages of CoP development proposed by the Wenger et al. (2002) (potential, coalescing, maturing, stewardship, transformation).
Who is involved

Practitioners, funding representatives, policymakers, governmental representatives (at all levels as appropriate) and researchers involved in health promotion and disease prevention may find this to be a valuable strategy. It would also be useful for community-based organizations and NGOs to exchange knowledge.

Conditions for Use
Not specified
Evaluation and Measurement Characteristics
Evaluation
Has been evaluated.

The researchers evaluated the impact of activities that took place during a three-day professional meeting. Participants completed a questionnaire prior to the research meeting and again three weeks following the meeting to evaluate the strategy. Researchers used mapping processes to illustrate social and professional networks in the area of Web-assisted tobacco intervention (WATI) at baseline. The questionnaire assessed expectations, knowledge, motivation for collaborating and interpersonal relationships, and took less than 30 minutes to complete. This process encouraged the formation of new network connections, increased participants’ engagement in knowledge transfer and exchange (KTE) activities and formalized collaborative CoPs involving multiple disciplines and sectors.

Validity
Not applicable
Reliability
Not applicable
Methodological Rating
Not applicable
Method/Tool Development
Developer(s)

Cameron Norman, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

• Background in public health, community psychology and evaluation

Tim Huerta, PhD, Research Scientist, Provincial Health Services Agency and the British Columbia Child and Family Health Research Institute, Vancouver, BC; and Research Assistant Professor in Health Organizational Management, Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech University

• Background in organizational behaviour and network research

Method of Development

This method draws on social networking methodology (social network analysis), complexity theory, science of networks and organizational behaviour.

Release Date
2006
Contact Person/Source

Corresponding author:
Dr. Cameron Norman
Dalla Lana School of Public Health,
University of Toronto
Health Sciences Building,
155 College Street, 5th Floor, Room 586
Toronto, ON M5T 3M7
Phone: (416) 978-1242
Email: cameron.norman@utoronto.ca

Resources

Title of Primary Resource
Knowledge transfer and exchange through social networks: Building foundations for a community of practice within tobacco control
File Attachment
None
Web-link
Reference

Norman, C. & Huerta, T. (2006). Knowledge transfer and exchange through social networks: Building foundations for a community of practice within tobacco control. Implementation Science, 1(20). doi:10.1186/1748-5908-1-20

Type of Material
Journal article
Format
On-line Access, Periodical
Cost to Access
None.
Language
English
Conditions for Use
Copyright © 2006 Norman & Huerta

Title of Supplementary Resource
Cultivating communities of practice
File Attachment
None
Web-link
Reference

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Type of Material
Book
Format
Paper copy
Cost to Access
Book purchase
Language
English
Conditions for Use
Not specified

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