John Porten



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Abstract or Description

The community of practice (CoP) made up of the alumni Community Solutions Program (CSP) caters to a diverse and globally distributed group of professionals in the peacebuilding, humanitarian and development fields. Facilitating such a community without substantial reliance on communications technology and distanced relationship-building would be impossible. Yet this kind of distanced practice community faces a trust hurdle: members will only contribute quality content if they believe others will do the same. This creates a classic “free-rider” problem that leads to the death of many distanced practice communities. Despite this challenge, the CSP alumni that make up the program’s community of practice contribute enthusiastically. Why?

This case study examines five practices IREX employs to increase trust, overcome the free-rider challenge, and therefore inspire participation and the creation of content that provides value to others in the community. The first four of these practices accord with best practices from a variety of other fields known for hosting practice communities. The last practice, focused on building a “community of care” as opposed to simply creating professional value for members, represents an innovation that is well-suited to peacebuilding practice communities.

Publication Date


Document Type



peacebuilding, hybrid, community of practice


Peace and Conflict Studies

IREX and the Community Solutions Program