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Collective action through a ‘Communities of Practice’ approach: improving post-crisis recovery through agricultural research

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A presentation by Ravi Prabhu at the Workshop on Defining a Strategic Agricultural Research Agenda on Post-Crisis/Post-Shock Recovery in Highly Stressed Systems, Nairobi, May 22-23, 2008.

A presentation by Ravi Prabhu at the Workshop on Defining a Strategic Agricultural Research Agenda on Post-Crisis/Post-Shock Recovery in Highly Stressed Systems, Nairobi, May 22-23, 2008.

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  • 1. Collective Action Through a ‘Communities of Practice’ Approach Improving post-crisis recovery through agricultural research Presented by Ravi Prabhu at the Workshop on Defining a Strategic Agricultural Research Agenda on Post-Crisis/Post-Shock Recovery in Highly Stressed Systems, Nairobi, May 22-23, 2008
  • 2. Overview Regional Plan Approach to Collective Action Communities of Practice Adapting and Operationalising Conclusion
  • 3. Approach to Collective Action
    • Governance mechanisms should be designed in full consultation with all partners and should meet with the agreement of a large majority of the partners
    • Role of the Alliance
    • Transaction costs need to be contained
    • Bottom-up and distributed approach
    • Implementation should be through flexible, transparent, accountable mechanisms and clearly articulated terms of reference and performance criteria for the relevant individuals
    • Use of network cluster approach: bring partners and strategic allies together in a flexible arrangement that facilitates innovation.
  • 4. Communities of Practice Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. Etienne Wenger
  • 5. Characteristics
    • The domain: identity defined by a shared domain of interest. Membership implies a commitment to the domain, and a shared competence that distinguishes members
    • The community: members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other. But do not necessarily work together on a daily basis.
    • The practice : develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice as opposed to ‘community of interest’.
  • 6. Enhancing capability Enable practitioners to take collective responsibility for managing the knowledge they need, as they are often in the best position to do this. Create a direct link between learning and performance, as the same people participate in communities of practice and in ‘operational’ units. Allows addressing the tacit and dynamic aspects of knowledge creation and sharing, as well as the more explicit aspects. Not limited by formal structures: they create connections among people across organizational and geographic boundaries.
  • 7. Why CoP? Strategic capabilities Keeping abreast Innovation Retention of talents New strategies Problem solving Time saving Knowledge sharing Synergies Reuse of resources Organization Personal development Reputation Professional identity Network Marketability Help with challenges Access to expertise Confidence Meaningful work Fun with colleagues Members Long term value Short term value
  • 8. Critical success factors Strategic relevance of domain Visible management sponsorship, but without micro-management Dance of formal and informal structures Adequate resources Consistent attitude Domain that energizes group Skillful and reputable coordinator Involvement of experts Address details of practice Right rhythm and mix of activities Organization Community
  • 9.
    • Are Communities of Practice a suitable vehicle for our collective action?
    • If yes:
    • Does the concept need adaptation? Roles, success factors, etc.
    • If no:
    • Are there alternative ‘vehicles’ that are more suitable?
    Concluding questions
  • 10. Thank you for your attention!

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