The knowledge gained by research is often trapped at the point of origin, caught in the language of research, or simply isolated from those who actually apply that knowledge – the practitioners in the field. Likewise, tacit knowledge from the field rarely reaches the researchers or those making decisions. More effective bridges between knowledge, policy and practice are needed, with communities of practice (CoPs) well positioned to do just that.
This paper describes the basic characteristics of CoPs and provides a rationale for their growing importance in international development. It also suggests some ways in which CoPs can be supported by development agencies, research institutes and donors to strengthen the linkages between knowledge, policy and practice.