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Estimation of the Risk of Knowledge Drain in Communities of Practice

Estimation of the Risk of Knowledge Drain in Communities of Practice
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The purpose of this study is to develop a metric that quantitatively estimates the risk of knowledge drain associated with the departure of members in communities of practice (CoP). The potential risk associated with individual members in a CoP is examined by considering two possibilities: when the members are network leaders and when the members are isolated experts. The developed metric is applied to a case study with actual data from online CoPs, and the results demonstrate the effectiveness of the metric by properly providing information about the members whose departure could cause serious damage to the CoP because of their strong influence or their inactivity in the network. The metric is validated by comparing it with other methods which can be applied to measure the knowledge drain risk. The approach and methods adopted in this study offer an initial step for designing assessment methods for knowledge networks, and provide new insights into quantitative research in knowledge management. Moreover, the suggested metric enables practitioners to identify critical members in a CoP and to enact appropriate precautions to reduce the vulnerability of the CoP.
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