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Nistor, Nicolae; Fischer, Frank (2012): Communities of practice in academia. Testing a quantitative model. In: Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, Vol. 1, No. 2: pp. 114-126




Up to now, the relationships among the fundamental notions of communities of practice (CoPs), i.e. knowledge, participation, identity, and artefact development have been based mainly on results from qualitative studies; they are not yet sufficiently based on quantitative evidence. Starting from a literature review, we formulate a quantitative, causal model of CoPs that describes these variables in the context of academic communities, and aim to validate this model in two academic CoPs with a total of N = 208 participants. A cluster analysis classifies the participants into clusters that are in line with the core-periphery structure known from previous qualitative studies. A regression analysis provides evidence for the hypothesized model on the basis of quantitative data. Suggested directions for future research are to focus on factors that determine CoP participants’ contributions to artefact development and on approaches to automated monitoring of virtual CoPs.