Identity reconciliation and knowledge mobilization in a mandated community of practice

Adamina Ivcovici, Ian McLoughlin, Alka Nand, Ananya Bhattacharya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: Communities of Practice (CoPs) are increasingly being created to facilitate knowledge mobilization in organizations. This paper aims to elucidate an underexplored aspect of participation in mandated CoPs – identity reconciliation. Specifically, the authors explore how actors reconcile their existing identities with becoming members of new knowledge mobilization CoPs. Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted a longitudinal qualitative case study over a 12-month period to explore identity reconciliation practices during the formation of the “ED CoP” – mandated by policymakers to mobilize knowledge between process improvement advisors and clinicians from various hospitals. Observation and interviews allowed us to uncover “front stage” and “backstage” practices of identity reconciliation. Findings: The findings reveal two key unexpected modes of identity reconciliation – “distancing” and “peripheral lurking”. These modes resulted in different trajectories of participation of two of the key participant groups – “veteran” improvement advisors and “veteran” clinicians. Practical implications: Different modes of identity reconciliation of different participants impact the formation of CoPs and how knowledge mobilization occurs within them. This paper offers a sensitizing lens for practitioners creating CoPs which enhances awareness of hidden identity practices, and recommendations to enable practitioners to effectively facilitate CoP formation. Originality/value: This study suggests that identity reconciliation is an integral aspect of CoP formation, and essential for knowledge mobilization within CoPs. Whereas studies on CoPs in the knowledge management literature have mostly assumed that collaboration produces beneficial knowledge mobilization outcomes, the findings build a more nuanced picture of the processes involved in producing these outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Community of practice
  • Healthcare
  • Identity reconciliation
  • Knowledge mobilization

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