DOI: 10.1177/135050840072002 ISSN:

Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems

Etienne Wenger
  • Management of Technology and Innovation
  • Strategy and Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting

This essay argues that the success of organizations depends on their ability to design themselves as social learning systems and also to participate in broader learning systems such as an industry, a region, or a consortium. It explores the structure of these social learning systems. It proposes a social definition of learning and distinguishes between three `modes of belonging' by which we participate in social learning systems. Then it uses this framework to look at three constitutive elements of these systems: communities of practice, boundary processes among these communities, and identities as shaped by our participation in these systems.