4e Symposium KCO 9, 10 et 11 juin 2021 Call for paper


Managing with Communities: a new stake for innovation, agility and resilience!

The symposium will be punctuated by :

  • An inaugural conference where Etienne WENGER-TRAYNER will bring his theoretical and practical lighting on communities of practice.
  • Various roundtable discussions related to the themes of the conference composed of professionals who will debate the role of communities in their business development or innovation capacities as well as the coordination mechanisms implemented between the firm and its communities

The COVID-19 pandemic is a health and social crisis devastating populations and disrupting our society, economy, and organizations.

In response, companies such as Dassault Aviation proposed leveraging collective intelligence to source, qualify, and design engineering and manufacturing solutions.

An open COVID-19 community emerged to consolidate a worldwide list of projects and connect them to people looking for solutions or willing to help.

Unprecedented collaborative impulses and communitarian gatherings developed in all areas: help for caregivers (carers), support for families, a consortium of companies to respond to the shortage of resuscitation equipment, etc.

In these troubled times, the spontaneous responses from communities are multiple and impactful, supporting creative endeavors and fostering innovations for resilience. 

The concept of knowing communities refers to the vast body of creative informal networks that repeatedly interact and exchange knowledge to support the dynamic processes of creation and innovation (Amin & Roberts, 2008; Cohendet et al., 2008).

These informal groups are made up of individuals willing to produce and mutualize new knowledge by connecting people belonging to different entities (David & Foray, 2003).

Their properties emphasize their social dimension: the voluntary commitment to exchange and share common cognitive resources; a common identity built on their practice and repeated exchange; the respect of specific social norms (Wenger, 1998; Cohendet et al., 2008).

It has been shown that communities have a leverage effect on value creation and performance within companies and that they foster innovation (Cohendet et al., 2006, Goglio-Primard et al., 2017, 2018, Crespin-Mazet et al.,2019).

Their role appears even more essential in times of crisis, to provide rapid responses to complex issues and foster collective resilience. 

Innovation in companies has undergone profound changes in the last fifteen years. For a long time, innovation was mainly generated by formal company departments (e.g. R&D, integrated design and engineering departments), but it is now increasingly enriched by ideas from various innovation communities: internal communities (employees), external communities (customers, partners, etc.) or mixed communities (Sarazin, Cohendet and Simon, 2017). 

The literature on Communities of Practice (CoPs) originates in the works of Wenger (1998) who identified the key role of such informal groups to foster learning between individuals based on practice-based knowledge sharing.

After having emerged to study learning among individuals, the notion of CoPs has been applied to professional contexts in the 1990s, to explain learning and knowledge sharing at work (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Orr 1996; Brown & Duguid, 1991; Lindkvist 2005; Haas, 1992).

It then came across as well-adapted to reflect the learning dynamics supporting innovative processes within firms or “innovation communities” (Sarazin, Cohendet & Simon, 2017). 

CoPs are defined as autonomous, self-emerging and ‘tightly knit’ groups (Brown & Duguid, 1991, 2001) whose members share the same practices and values.

They are self-organized structures that usually emerge spontaneously and whose members learn by engaging in frequent, social, face-to-face interactions and by working side-by-side (Wenger, 1998).

Hence, community members learn by practicing and exchanging with others (Wenger, 1998; 2002) with the objective to develop the competences in a given practice.

These communities play an active role in the innovation process by contributing at different levels: capitalization of good practices, problem solving or development of new ideas.

These new forms of organization act as true social networks by facilitating informal exchanges between individuals sharing a common goal.

Through their interactions, their members develop specific values and modes of operation that facilitate mutual engagement, the sharing of knowledge and good practices and encourage creativity and innovation (Wenger, 1998, Wenger et al., 2011 ; 2015).

Aware of the importance of these communities for their performance, a growing number of companies are adapting their management practices to foster their emergence and exploit their potential (Cohendet et al., 2006).

Examples include Hewlett-Packard Learning Groups, Xerox Family-Groups, British Petroleum Peer Groups, IBM Global Services Knowledge Networks, Schneider-Electric communities of practice, and Lego user communities. 

While innovation becomes a strategic stake for companies, the Bloomberg Innovation Index of the most innovative countries highlights the difficulties of firms to innovate.

In terms of innovation, an increasing number of firms discover the key role played by communities.

Innovation will increasingly draw its main source from communities. These informal communities act as various active units in the innovation process.

Given the source of creativity provided by communities, it is in the company's interest to establish a strong relationship with them and collect the creative honey from them and nurture the organization's formal innovative processes (Sarazin, Cohendet & Simon, 2017). 

In times of crisis, the complementary roles of communities and collectives (Simon, 2009, Crespin-Mazet et al., 2017) seem essential to strengthen collective resilience.

On the one hand, collectives are built on societal projects, aiming for new proposals and change (Paraponaris et al., 2013, Paraponaris, & Rohr 2015).

They are geared towards the future and defend “a society opened to new values, broader interests and open access to knowledge” (2013, p. 10).

They are naturally opened to other social groups with whom they can confront information and knowledge in an effort towards enrichment.

On the other hand, communities aim to defend their members’ competences and expertise in order to support their regime of competence: their actions directly benefit their members and not the society as a whole.

Hence, community members can be characterized by solidarity while members of a collective are characterized by complementarity.

In sum, communities naturally raise borders to external knowledge while collectives naturally aim at crossing them. 

Our intention in this Symposium is to to analyze the dynamics of knowledge communities (communities of practice, external communities (customers, partners, etc.), mixed communities and collectives) with respect to innovation, agility, and resilience of organizations. Innovation will increasingly draw its main source from communities and collectives.

These informal communities act as various active units, with potentially different roles, at different stages of the innovation process.

Given the source of creativity provided by these new organizational forms, companies should establish a strong yet respectful relationship with them in order to harvest their creative outputs and nurture the organization's formal innovative processes (Sarazin & al., 2017), especially in times of crisis. 

Co-presidents of scientific committee: 

  • Karine Goglio-Primard, Associate Professor, Kedge Business School
  • Florence Crespin-Mazet, Associate Professor, Kedge Business School
  • Patrick Cohendet, Professor, Mosaic HEC Montréal
  • Laurent Simon, Professor, Mosaic HEC Montréal
  • Réal Jacob, Professor, Mosaic HEC Montréal
  • Claude Guittard, Professor, University of Strasbourg
  • Marion Neukam, Professor, University of Strasbourg
  • Eddie Soulier, Professor, University of Technology Troyes
  • Guy Parmentier, Professor, University of Grenoble

Organization committee: 

Selection Process of papers and dates: 

All Authors should submit their full papers in english for consideration to Karine.goglio@kedgebs.com for March 1st. Full length research papers (including tables, figures, references and appendices) should be up to 10,000 words.

Publication Policy 

The best papers presented during the Symposium will be proposed to European Management Journal for a Management Focus on "Managing with communities for innovation, agility and resilience". 

The proposed Management Focus is planned as one of the academic outputs of the Symposium. The management focus is open to all Scholars to ensure that those not involved in the KCO symposium can also submit a paper.  

All Authors should submit their full papers for consideration by guest editors to Karine.goglio@kedgebs.com  for 25th September 2021. All submissions will be subject to EMJ’s usual double-blind peer-review process and should respect the journal’s guidelines.

Registration fees KCO Symposium for lunches, gala diner, coffee break and access to research papers' presentations and roundtables:

  • students and PhD students:
    • 350€ for full attendance on site
    • 100€ for online attendance
  • professors, professionals, other:
    • 550€ for full attendance on site
    • 300€ for online attendance

Mode of payment:

  • by check to the order of  Kedge Business School
  • by bank transfer.

The Symposium Program will address several issues

1 - How can knowledge communities’ dynamics (communities of practice, external communities (customers, partners, etc.), mixed communities and collectives) foster organizational resilience?
2 - How to create and animate a community, with experts, customers, and users, to develop innovation, agility, and resilience in times of crisis.
3 - How to create and animate a community with customers & users to develop business?
4 - How do communities of customers nurture the innovation process?
5 - How to mix these new organizational forms (i.e. communities of practice, collectives, communities of customers…..) to innovate and resist the crisis.
6 - How can collectives promote a common societal cause outside the organization and obtain the adhesion and legitimacy of the greatest number?
7- How the spontaneous responses of communities and collectives can support innovations, e.g. resilience in formal hierarchical structure. 
8- How can organizations support communities and collectives?
9-What are the management mechanisms (organizational levers) that support the development of innovative practices within knowing communities?
10 - How to develop the interactions between formal structures (the hierarchical structures of companies) and knowing communities (communities of practice, collectives, etc.) ?
11- How can the productions of knowing communities be exploited, disseminated, and institutionalized through a formal structure?


Amin, A.; Roberts, J. (2008), Community, economic creativity and organization, Oxford Press. 

Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (1991). Organizational learning and communities-of-practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning, and innovation. Organization science, 2(1), 40-57.

Brown, J.S.; Duguid, P. (2001). “Knowledge and Organization: a Social-Practice Perspective”, Organization Science, Vol.12, N°2, p.198-213.

Cohendet P., Creplet F. et Dupouet O. (2006). La gestion des connaissances. Firmes et communautés de savoir. Economica. 206 pages.

Cohendet, P ;.; Grandadam, D ; Simon, L. (2008). “Réseaux, communautés et projets dans les processus créatifs”. Management International, Vol.13, N°1, p. 29-43.

Crespin-Mazet, F., Goglio-Primard, K., Grenier, C. (2017) Social Collectives: A Partial Form of Organizing That Sustains Social Innovation, Management international, 21 (3), p.33-44. 

Crespin-Mazet F., Goglio-Primard K. et Guittard C., (2019). «Communautés de connaissances et accélération de l’innovation et de la créativité », Revue Innovations 58 (1), 6-10.

David, P. A., & Foray, D. (2002). An introduction to the economy of the knowledge society. International social science journal, 54(171), 9-23.

Goglio-Primard, K., Guittard C., Burger-Helmchen T. (2017). Knowledge Sharing in Geographically Dispersed Communities, Management international, 21(3), 10-15

Goglio-Primard, K., Soulier E. (2018), Connaissances et technologie dans les communautés d’innovation, Revue Systèmes d’Information et Management, 23 (1), p.3-9. 

Haas, P. M. (1992). Introduction: epistemic communities and international policy coordination. International organization, 1-35.

Lave, J.; Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Lindkvist, L., (2005). “Knowledge communities and knowledge collectivities: a typology of knowledge work in groups”. Journal of Management Studies 42 (6), 1189–1210.

Orr, J.E., (1996). Talking About Machines: An Ethnography of a Modern Job. IRL Press an imprint of Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY/London.

Paraponaris, C.; Sigal, M.; Vion, A., (2013). “Socialisation et génération des connaissances : distinguer les collectifs des communautés" ; 6ème Conférence AGeCSO, Juin, Nancy.

Paraponaris, C., & Rohr, A. (2015). Codification des connaissances et question du langage: identité et coordination au sein des communautés et des collectifs.  halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr

Sarazin, B., Cohendet, P., & Simon, L. (2017). Les communautés d’innovation. Editions EMS.

Simon, L. (2009). “Underground, upperground et middle-ground : les collectifs créatifs et la capacité créative de la ville”, Management international, vol. 13, p. 37-51.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice. Learning, Meaning, and Identity, Cambridge University Press.

Wenger, E.; Mc Dermott, R.; Snyder, W. (2002). A guide to managing knowledge: Cultivating Communities of Practice, Harvard Business School Press.

Wenger, E.; Trayner, B.; De Laat, M. (2011). Promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks: a conceptual framework, Ruud de Moor Centrum, Open Universiteit, rdmc.ou.nl.

Wenger-Trayner, E.; Fenton-O’Creevy, M.; Hutchinson, S.; Kubiak, C. (2015). Learning in Landscapes of Practice: Boundaries, identity, and knowledgeability in practice-based learning, London: Routledge.