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Table 3 Three perspectives on CoPs and their potential application in healthcare service improvement

From: Managing boundaries in primary care service improvement: A developmental approach to communities of practice

  Analytical perspective Instrumental perspective Developmental perspective
Purpose A theoretical heuristic to analyse practice, meaning, identity and learning A knowledge management tool aiming to deliberately engineer, or ‘cultivate’ CoPs Analysis of relevant CoPs and their characteristics accompanied by the facilitation of their development
Types of CoPs prioritised Existing or naturally emerging, organic, often uniprofessional Deliberate, often multiprofessional and/or multi-organisational Multiple, overlapping CoPs forming wider landscapes of practice
Potential application Researching boundaries, identities and their influence on knowledge sharing; informing theory-driven implementation interventions [17] Delivering joint projects by CoPs comprised of committed and legitimate members, placed in favourable context and supported by infrastructure and resources [55] Implementing service improvement interventions in complex multiprofessional and multi-organisational contexts with numerous barriers to knowledge sharing