abstract The purpose of this paper is to critically explore the communities of practice approach to managing knowledge and its use among management academics and practitioners in recent years. In so doing, the aim is to identify the limits of the approach in the field of knowledge management. The paper begins with a brief description of the communities of practice approach. This is followed by a review of critiques of the approach evident in the management literature. A number of further challenges are then elaborated. The limits of communities of practice are subsequently discussed and brief conclusions drawn.