Call for Papers KM4D Journal issue September 2017: 'Communities of Practice in development: a relic of the past or sign of the future?'

Important: For those who decide to submit an abstract, please note the various deadlines in the timetable at the end of this message.


Background information and call for papers

The Knowledge Management for Development Journal (KM4D Journal) is a peer-reviewed community-based journal on knowledge management for development – for and by development practitioners, researchers and policymakers. The journal is closely related to the KM4Dev community of practice ([]).


Volume 13, No. 2 is scheduled to be published in September 2017. Lucie Lamoureux and Riff Fullan are the Senior KM4D Journal Editors for this issue. Guest editors include: Adrian Bannister (IDS), Charles Dhewa (Knowledge Transfer Africa), Ewen Le Borgne (ILRI) and Nancy White (Full Circle Associates).


Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice, or CoPs, have been recognised as having a particularly high potential when it comes to supporting effective knowledge sharing and learning. They have been described as being akin to communities in towns or cities, but distinguished by their membership being composed of people with shared engagement and interest in a particular domain of knowledge. Communication and sharing of resources often takes place both virtually and face-to-face within CoPs, and they can be widely geographically dispersed.


CoPs have been described as living knowledge repositories, having a high degree of dynamism and representing state-of-the-art thinking in particular domains by virtue of the command their members (and their respective networks) have of a field of expertise. At the same time, it has been recognized that CoPs cannot be made to order but must be nurtured and come into being in a somewhat organic way, evolving through the interactions and motivations of their members.


In the development context, CoPs have been a topic of admiration and discussion from the beginning of knowledge management (KM)-related thinking in the development world in the mid-to-late 1990s, with extensive implementation by development actors during the ‘noughties’ (ie. 2000-2010). But since then, they have received much less attention as a topic of discussion or explicit mechanism for knowledge sharing. Are CoPs a thing of the past?


This issue of the KM4D Journal

The topic of CoPs is not only worthy of some reflection in itself, but it is a particularly interesting one for the KM4D Journal as the last issue devoted to CoPs was in fact the very first issue of the Journal published in 2005. The title of that first issue was ‘Supporting Communities in Development’. As the Journal itself grew directly out of the global KM4Dev CoP (which began around the year 2000, so was about 5 years old when the inaugural KM4D Journal came out), it is natural that the topic of CoPs would be on the table for its first issue.


Now, 10+ years later, the topic of CoPs in development seems to be stirring again after some years of dormancy. The time is right to ask some penetrating questions – and perhaps point to some answers – about the real and potential benefits of CoPs, and about what those in the development community might do to harness such benefits (or perhaps find other routes to enhancing learning and knowledge sharing in their work).


So, this KM4D Journal issue on revisiting CoPs, would like to explore such issues as the following:


·         Has knowledge sharing in CoPs led to more learning, to capacity development? To changes in the way we do things individually, as organisations, in networks and communities?

·         Do CoPs contribute (or have they contributed) to sustainable development in any way?

·         Are there new conceptual ideas or models that can be shared, either about understanding CoPs, or delivering on the promise of them? Any effective funding or incentive models for CoPs?

·         Have some long-standing CoPs evolved in significant ways and what is their evolution telling us about the relevance of CoPs in current global development?

·         Is there any solid operational evidence/cases/stories of CoP success, or alternatively from partial successes or failures from which we can learn (especially how these CoPs are animated/facilitated)?

·         Can we point to innovative learning or training curricula around CoPs?

·         Has the idea of CoPs as a conceptual framework been superseded by others?

·         How has the social media explosion impacted CoPs and how has the balance between physical and virtual community building been affected with various competing “spaces”?

·         Is there a potential for CoPs to contribute to furthering collective goals and holistic approaches, particularly those such as the Sustainable Development Goals associated with Agenda 2030, and if so to what degree and in which ways?


Your Contribution: Submission of abstracts and papers

As with other issues of the KM4D Journal, this one will include articles, case studies, think pieces, publication reviews, short stories, life stories, debates, etc. (have a look at the Journal’s author guidelines for a full list of possible contributions). We are looking to receive a range of contributions, from both academic and practitioner perspectives, including those based on concrete real-world situations to more conceptual pieces that offer new or challenge/reinterpret existing models.


The schedule of the submission and review process leading to publication is below. If you would like to submit a paper, or be actively involved in this initiative in any other way, please submit your abstract (minimum one paragraph – maximum one page) online on the Knowledge Management for Development Journal site.


If you have any question about this specific call for papers please send an email to (please include “CoP Issue” in the title of your email).

For further information about the journal, kindly consult the journal website at:


Guidelines for authors are available on the journal’s website:


·         Submission deadline for title and abstract: 30 January 2017

·         Acceptance of short proposal: 29 February 2017

·         Submission of full paper: 15 April 2017

·         Completion of peer-review: 30 May 2017

·         Submission of final version of paper: 15 July 2017

·         Publication date: 1 September 2017



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