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Boundary objects

23 March 2009

Derek Thomson

Connected communities of practice become a collective – but temporary – “community of interest.”  These linked communities of practice will be in operational proximity of each other (with regard to the problem considered).

The “boundary object” is the problem.  It is the thing that connects the communities of practice because they each have a (different) interest in the object.

A boundary object could be machines, software, rules, procedures, etc. — anything imposed by the org’s technostructure.

“A boundary object has meaning within the conceptual knowledge systems of at least two communities of practice.”

INNOVATION and CREATIVITY result because the meaning (understanding) of the boundary object is NOT the same in the communities of practice – it is this difference in understanding that breeds innovation and creativity.

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