Competitive Communities of Practice, Knowledge Sharing, and Machiavellian Participation: A Case Study

Keith Schofield, Bejan Analoui, James Brooks, Sayed Fairzi Hussain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper explores the emergence of Machiavellian behaviours in a Community of Practice (CoP). The CoP was initiated by the top management team (TMT) as a management development initiative. Participants in a manufacturing setting were encouraged to engage in a series of problem solving tasks with counterparts from across the organisation in a short-term CoP. A qualitative case study, using in-depth interviews, was conducted in a large processing plant in the Middle Eastern Kingdom of Bahrain. This is an empirical case study that explores employee participation in a short-term management development programme which sought to create CoPs to enable knowledge sharing. A competitive element was introduced, and we contend this promoted behaviours which served the individuals rather than the CoP. The findings indicate that TMT intervention change the dynamics of CoPs, reducing knowledge sharing and collaboration among community members. Recommendations are made to practitioners to be cognisant of the possibility of Machiavellian participation in CoPs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-221
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Training and Development
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2018


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