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Because of its potential self-sustainability, communities of practice may serve as useful practice-based knowledge sharing platforms for collaborative research and training, and thereby enhance development of human resources in the health sector. However, communities of practice are complex structures and need support from their host organisations and commitment from their members. This article examines the diverse ways in which communities of nurse educators and practitioners who were part of a funded program in Tshwane District, South Africa evolved over a period of seven years. Adopting an ethnographic approach of reflexivity and learning, we compared and analysed the ways in which the communities of practice became sustainable over time. Our recommendations for institutional support of communities of practice in the health sector are based on the lessons we learned during the program that contributed to the configuration and reconfiguration of some of our communities of practice and the disengagement of others. We believe that our findings may have implications for replicability and sustainability of other communities of practice.
Keywords: collaborative learning, collective knowledge, self-sustainability
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