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Community Contribution

Communities of Practice and Networks: Reviewing Two Perspectives on Social Learning

Sarah Cummings, Arin Van Zee

This paper examines two different approaches used to describe and analyse similar phenomena: ‘networks for learning’ and ‘communities of practice’. These approaches are both prevalent in the development discourse but they come from different traditions and strands of thinking. Nonetheless, they both offer a rich and stimulating perspective on how individuals and organisations are working together within the development process. The purpose of this article is mixed. Firstly, we aim to summarise current thinking on both of these approaches with the aim of making them both more accessible to development practitioners. Secondly, we will explore the similarities and differences between the two, aiming to establish linkages between the two. Thirdly, based on these linkages, we hope to be able to reconcile them to some extent as away of getting the best out of them both. We will also be looking at the similarities and the differences between these approaches. Where is the challenge for development practice related to these concepts of social learning?

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