Demystifying Virtual Communities of Practice:
A Case Study of IBM

Ayse KOK

The purpose of this proposed research study is to empirically explore the nature of virtual communities of practice (CoP) in a global organisation within the context of its International Corporate Volunteer (ICV) Program. This study investigates whether and how the use of virtual CoP evolves and becomes embedded within this organization. Following the logic of inductive research, a qualitative case study will be proposed here, to gain insight on the extent to which virtual CoPs can be utilized. For this purpose, a global business organisation that established a partnership with a Canadian non-profit organisation and implements a corporate volunteer program is proposed. Although previous studies confirmed the important role that the quality of dialogue plays in the cultivation of effective communities of practice this study shows that despite the quality of exchanges, virtual CoP are not necessarily utilized due to some alternative channels of communication.