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Mobility at work

Highlights•We examine how mobile workers self-organize to overcome the complexities of mobile work.•Using contextual ambidexterity, we examine “Mobile Communities of Practice” (MCOPs).•Variations in organizational alignment and individual discretion lead to four types of MCOPs.•These types matter – 2 can lead to competency or failure traps, 1 type can approach ambidexterity.•We present strategic and practical considerations for identifying, creating, and managing MCOPs.AbstractInnovations in mobile technology shape how mobile workers share knowledge and collaborate on the go. We introduce mobile communities of practice (MCOPs) as a lens for understanding how these workers self-organize, and present three MCOP case studies. Working from contextual ambidexterity, we develop a typology of bureaucratic, anarchic, idiosyncratic and adhocratic MCOPs. We discuss how variations in the degree of organizational alignment and individual discretion shape the extent to which these types explore and exploit mobile work practices and approach organizational ambidexterity. This article concludes with important strategic implications for managing mobile work and practical considerations for identifying, creating, and supporting MCOPs.

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