Communities of practice in competitive settings: exploring the role of associations of market traders in Nigeria?s marketplaces
Keywords:community of practice, competition, market traders, associations, market places, Nigeria
AbstractMarketplaces provide employment and economic integration for large segments of the West African population. Often crowded and diverse marketplaces can be conflict flashpoints because they bring together large numbers of people from different ethnic groups together to compete for livelihoods. Despite the potential for marketplaces to become a locus of conflict, widespread of tacit enforcement of rules and regulations established by a variety of trader associations and groups have facilitated effective means of cooperation and collaboration among traders. The paper employs a Community of Practice approach to explore the role that one particular set of relationships ? market trader associations, play in promoting collaboration in what is an otherwise competitive arena of trade. The paper explores the function of these associations as crucial connectors for fostering knowledge sharing, trust and joint working in marketplaces that are predominantly associated with competition and intense reliance on personalised networks. Drawing on examples from studies of market trader associations in markets in Lagos, Nigeria, during 2010-2012, the paper considers how the unconscious and sometimes tacit experiences of local groups, networks and communities can enliven and broaden how Communities of Practice are deployed as tools in development.