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Based on the ethnographic data collected from the workplace of an academic library, I argue that workplace learning (WL) is a situated socio-cognitive process. It is expedited by knowledge management (KM), which is a collective effort to generate, share, and institutionalize work-related knowledge. KM is inherent in the face-to-face conversational interactions embedded in planned formal training, planned informal sharing, and spontaneous informal learning. When face-to-face interaction is not possible, KM is accomplished through textualization. It helps the members of the workplace acquire new work-related knowledge and integrate it to their common, contextualized knowledge base. The contents of the knowledge base are manifested in the members’ professional practices and explicated by their professional/communal discourse. By virtue of their distinctive practices and discourse, the members form a community of practice (CoP) and gain their professional/communal identity. Whenever they engage in KM, perform their practices, and/or use their discourse, they authenticate their professional/communal identity and enact their CoP.


This paper is the abridged version of Adrian Ho's thesis for an M.A. in Communications Studies from the University of Calgary in Canada. It was presented at the National Communication Association Annual Convention in Chicago, IL in Nov. 2004, but it was not published in the conference proceedings.

The M.A. thesis is available as the additional file listed below.

Adrian Ho was not yet affiliated with The University of Western Ontario at the time of publication.