I arrived at this book via Situated Learning, the book Etienne Wenger wrote with Jean Lave, and his own earlier book, Communities of Practice. These present fundamental understandings on the nature of knowledge, practice and meaning in organisations. As a practitioner, I would very much like to see a follow-up, to address the practical implementation of these perspectives in the workplace. Unfortunately, Cultivating Communities of Practice fails to meet this need.
In their desperation to be friendly to a non-academic audience, the authors have avoided anything challenging to conventional management thinking, watering down the original and valuable concepts of the earlier books. The Community of Practice, which was previously "an intrinsic condition for the existence of knowledge" is now an optional - "a practical way to manage knowledge as an asset". Instead of being a pre-requisite for meaning and practice, it has become merely the latest management idea - a useful place for people to exchange ideas and help each other with problems. Problems and solutions are thereby re-located back into the minds of individuals, rather than being socially constructed.
There are occasional paragraphs - for instance on stewardship and institutionalisation - which briefly touch on the real issues, but for the most part the content is anodyne, and would be better suited to beginner's guide to running a social club.
A dreadfully disappointing book.