This dissertation documents the qualitative study that was conducted with the Ambassador Pilot Program team at Thanksgiving Point Institute; a non-profit farm, gardens, and museum complex and informal learning institution; from the summer of 2011 to the fall of 2012. The Ambassador team was tasked to develop an employee training program. Over time the team members were given more freedom to direct their own course and set their own objectives. To the co-directors of the program it seemed the Ambassadors began to embrace some characteristics common to a community of practice (CoP); however, it remained to be seen how the Ambassadors viewed themselves. Therefore, this research study seeks to answer the following research questions: Did this Ambassador team transform into a CoP or at least the beginnings of a CoP? If so, what contributed to this transformation? And if not, what discouraged this transformation from occurring? To what extent did the Ambassadors become a CoP or not? This dissertation is comprised of two articles. The first article is a literature review of applicable CoP and team literatures that investigate the theoretical underpinnings of the question, "Can a team become a CoP?" Thus far, no documented cases have been found in the literature of teams transforming into CoPs. The second article documents the study that was conducted at Thanksgiving Point with the Ambassador team during the Ambassador Pilot Program. Using qualitative methods including interviews, observations, and document analysis, it was observed that the Ambassador team took on many characteristics of a CoP, including becoming a community of learners, sharing a domain of interest, engaging in a common practice, and evolving organically as directed by the Ambassadors and not the senior management at Thanksgiving Point. Appendices of this dissertation include the following: (a) a literature review similar to the first article but with more content; (b) a detailed methodology plan that outlines the qualitative methods, techniques, and standards that were followed to conduct this study; and (c) the interview protocol used during the study.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





teams, communities of practice, knowledge management, training, management, domain of shared interest, culture