Advancing business transformations towards sustainability: the role of dissemination-oriented communities of practice

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The dissemination of sustainable business practices among networks of firms is a field of increasing importance for science and society. This entails firms adopting sustainable practices and disseminating these to others, in a process of knowledge transfer, often problematic. A complementary perspective is communities of practice, a social learning structure where sustainability-related knowledge among a variety of actors can occur. However, the connection between both fields remains unexplored. Addressing this gap, a literature review integrates both fields and provides a framework for this study, conducted through a multiple qualitative case study. Findings highlight that communities of practice act as a dissemination mechanism, where businesses can develop trust, social capital and ties, develop collaborations and engage in social learning and collective action for the dissemination of sustainability. Firms in these CoPs transform themselves and others towards sustainability. This contributes to the understanding of communities of practice and the relevance of the construct for science, industry practice and societal actors, proposing dissemination-oriented CoPs as a social structure that can be nurtured to advance sustainability. Through them, firms can better deal with sustainability challenges, coping with the demands of sustainability and, collectively, find ways to integrate these challenges in their operations
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen