Knowledge management experience and communities of practice network

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award


Currently, innovative experiences in organisations, and particularly those coming from Knowledge Management (KM), are being received very positively by organisations. Since the mid-90s, a significant number of companies around the world are turning slowly towards executing projects of this kind as a means of improving company efficiency and output. Nevertheless, within public organisations there is less general demand for KM due the particular nature; such as, for example, the absence of threats derived from a potential rival or the rigid employment structure, which are present in these organisations and which have allowed avoiding looking for new strategies through KM in order to ensure their survival. However, different organisations in the public sector are applying a series of interesting KM projects.

In the last three years, a Knowledge Management project has been put into practice in the area of Justice administration under the Catalan government, the Generalitat of Catalonia. From the beginning, this project has been organised around one of the most widely used methodology tools for this kind of initiative: the communities of practice. As happened in many similar case studies, the introduction, smooth running and even the actual survival of these communities of practice has come up against a series of cultural, technological and organisational barriers prevalent in public administration. The project has been developed by a network of communities of practice (CoPs), coordinated by a central figure of new organisational leadership, namely the e-moderator who has the objective of promoting and creating an environment of collaboration so as to facilitate the creation and exchange of knowledge between the teams involved. Two complementary strategies were put into practice to help the e-moderators reach these objectives: 1) the possibility of using a virtual work platform (the ‘e-Catalunya’ platform); 2) a policy of financial incentives was drawn up and complemented by actions to promote their use among the rest of the community, increase potential users and active participation in the project.

This enabled the organisation to systematically collect all knowledge products generated by the project, which then became the raw material for creating a Best Practices repository. The principal result achieved from the experience focuses on: 1) the creation of the network of Communities of Practice itself, which has achieved the establishing of an annual average of one product of knowledge prepared and applied for each work group; 2) the attainment of tools: a checklist has been obtained for the rapid identification of professional groups that comprise more guarantees for success in the stable and productive training of the communities of practice; and a development model for the CoP lifecycle specifically for the public administration and some indicators for each phase of this cycle (use, impact and quality) has been identified; 3) the overall transforming effect that the experience is having in the organisation.

Award info
Award category: leadership and change
Award type: submission
Award year: 2009
Project type
Sector: Public administration, modernisation, institutional affairs, reform
Type of activity:
Keywords: Knowledge Management (KM), Communities of Practice (CoPs), collaborative network
Short English description: In the last three years, a Knowledge Management project has been put into practice in the area of Justice administration under the Catalan government, the Generalitat of Catalonia
Further information
Organisation: Centre for Legal Studies and Specialised Training of Catalonia
Other applicants:
Level of government: regional level
Size of organisation: >100
Number of people involved:
Country: Spain
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:

Knowledge management experience and communities of practice network (41.3918609° N, 2.1763633° E)
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