Publication of D6.1 – A Framework for Studying Communities of Practice in a Media Cluster Context

Sylvain Plazy News and events

In line with the publication of the first deliverables of the MCB project, it is the turn of Deliverable 6.1 on media communities of practice to be put online.

D6.1 is the framework for studying communities of practice in a media cluster context, which introduces the concepts of communities of practice and explains how do we plan to study them.

This report aims to provide a framework for researching communities through which media workers share and develop new work practices. Communities of practice are groups of people, formal or informal, where members are sharing knowledge and develop practices (Wenger, 1998). They are of noticeable interest as they are linking workers and companies with each other, and are a valuable asset for clusters as they are seen as means to foster cooperation and innovation, which are key elements for a cluster success. Even if they were not referred to as communities of practice per se, various works and studies on clusters identified places, groups or individuals helping knowledge and innovation to spread as essential for a working and successful cluster. Innovation is a core purpose for clusters, and anything that can foster it is much valued.

This report is divided in three main parts: the first part is a theoretical approach towards communities of practice, with some examples and a look at different approaches, the second part consists in the elaboration of the seven parameters (places, proximity, pertinence, profile, path-dependency, policies and performance) for studying communities of practice, and the final part introduces different methods we could use to study communities of practice in the Brussels media sector.

In the first part, after giving an illustration of what are media communities of practice in Brussels, we discuss different approaches and concepts that will contribute to identify, study and analyse communities of practices in the Brussels media sphere and to understand how media workers develop practices while interacting with each other. Thus the first part presents the state-of-the-art on communities of practice, addresses how this concept first appeared and has been studied and analysed, and discusses the most frequently used definitions and characteristics. This will help us to define what are the different characteristics making a community of practice relevant for our research.

The second part of this report elaborates further the seven parameters identified in Deliverable 1.1b from the perspective of communities of practice. The first parameter, place, identifies the physical location and concentration of existing communities of practice in Brussels. The second parameter, proximity, points out the different kinds of links or interconnections existing between different communities of practice and between the members of these communities. The third parameter, pertinence, addresses the domain of these communities (are they relevant for media clusters?) and their composition. The fourth parameter, profile, analyses the profiles and roles of the members of communities of practice. The fifth parameter, path-dependency, looks at the different historical and institutional factors that can explain why communities of practice are how they are today. The sixth parameter, policies, approaches the different official frameworks, actions, incentives and legal statutes that impede, encourage or regulate communities of practice. Finally, the seventh parameter, performance, analyses the benefits that media workers and media organisations in a cluster gain from participating in communities of practice. Through the analysis of these 7 parameters the study will provide important insights to consider for implementing new communities of practice or supporting better existing ones, and thereby bringing a fresh dynamic in the Brussels media sector.

The third part of this report is a preliminary approach to the main methods that researchers use to study communities of practice: ethnographic studies, (semi-) structured interviews and surveys.

The complete deliverable D6.1 can be found in the section Publications.