Abstract - The Information Society 21(2)

Relations in Practice: Sorting through Practice Theories on Knowledge Sharing in Complex Organizations

Carsten Østerlund and Paul Carlile

We examine practice theories concerned with knowledge sharing in complex organizations to distinguish common trends and variations in this complex body of work. We suggest that an analytical framework highlighting the relational thinking in practice theories can serve as a tool to sort through the literature on knowledge sharing. First, we delineate a relational framework consisting of seven attributes associated with a practice theory. Second, we use this framework to analyze a narrow set of practice theories represented by three seminal works on communities of practice. Third, we compare and contrast the relational dynamics found in the three seminal works in regard to how they conceptualize knowledge sharing within and across communal boundaries.

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