I like recursivity in acronyms such as GNU, which stands for “GNU’s Not Unix”, and also in cartoons. A recent example for a recursive cartoon is featured below, addressing a great number of issues regularly debated around the alternative copyright licensing standard Creative Commons. The author of the work is Patrick Hochstenbach, a comic artist, programmer, and digital architect at University of Ghent libraries. You can also find his work on Instagram and Twitter.
The 33rd EGOS Colloquium will take place from July 6–8, 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and together with Georg von Krogh (ETH Zürich) and Richard Whittington (Oxford University) I will be convenor of sub-theme 50 on “Open Strategy: Practices, Perspectives and Problems“. The sub-theme will pick-up threads of discussion from a previous EGOS subtheme on “Open Organizations for an Open Society?” held in 2015 in Athens. Please find the Call for Short Papers below, submission deadline is January 9, 2017:
Many organizations in public, private and non-for-profit sectors are becoming more transparent about their strategies, while also including a wider range of actors in strategy development. These moves involve a variety of strategy practices, for example strategy jamming (Bjelland & Wood, 2008), strategy crowdsourcing (Stieger et al., 2012), strategy blogs and wikis (Dobusch & Kapeller, 2013) or strategy simulations in online games (Aten & Thomas, 2016). Although involving many different practices, this phenomenon has been described most comprehensively as ‘open strategy’ (Chesbrough & Appleyard, 2007; Whittington et al., 2011).
Building upon these studies, recent works on open strategy have begun to look at open strategy from an increasing variety of perspectives such as impression management (Whittington et al., 2016), middle-management inclusion in strategy-making (Wolf et al., 2014) or the inter-organizational explorations of strategic issues (Werle & Seidl, 2015). However, systematic cross-fertilization between the emerging open strategy literature and other areas and concepts of organizational openness are still rare. Read the rest of this entry »
Fueled by new digital technologies and by the perceived success of concepts such as ‘open innovation’, we can observe a growing interest in open forms of organizing more generally both among practitioners as well as among organization scholars (see also the wiki-based course on the matter). One such new field representing the interest in organizational openness is the realm of strategy research under the label of ‘Open Strategy’. The recently launched online community platform ‘Open Strategy Network‘ tries to connect and foster exchange among scholars interested in this emerging phenomenon.
The World Bank’s previously public data on microfinance and financial inclusion has recently been locked away behind a paywall. It’s hard to figure out why. However, it raises larger questions about the Bank’s strategies for microfinance and knowledge more broadly.
(This is a background piece to an article published on the IDS blog.)
Since the 1990s, the World Bank has sought to present itself as not only as a lender, but also a global “Knowledge Bank” that collects and provides knowledge as a global public good. It has garnered some praise, and perhaps more criticism, for ostensibly seeking to monopolise knowledge about development. In 2012, the Independent Evaluation Group concluded the objective of creating a global Knowledge Bank had not been achieved, criticising a lack of uptake of knowledge within the Bank and “intellectual silos”.
So how about intellectual vaults, with knowledge securely locked away? Turning public monopolies into private (or pseudo-private) monopolies; now that doesn’t sound like something the World Bank would be in favour of, does it? It’s precisely what happened with the World Bank’s microfinance data platform earlier this month.
The MIX (also known as “Microfinance Information Exchange”, or “Mixmarket.org”) was created by the World Bank’s in-house-but-arms-length microfinance governing body, CGAP, to improve the transparency of the microfinance industry. Since 2002, the MIX (whose connections to the World Bank are not made very clear, but its headquarters are across the street) has collected data about the global microfinance sector, packaged primarily to cater to investment decision-makers.
The MIX’s “.org” suffix denotes its claim to serve the greater good. The data were made available on-line. Anyone with an interest in microfinance could access it: “a big win for open data in international development”.
Get the “public” data – for upwards of $486
Those days, it seems, are over. All the data which were previously available for downloading and (usually after some cleaning) analysing in a spreadsheet are now behind a paywall. What used to be a “global public good” is now priced at at least $486 a year – clearly too much for most students or researchers, let alone those from developing countries.
(Image: screenshot from themix.org)
At the end of March I was invited speaker at a workshop on “Balancing Intellectual Property Claims and the Freedom of Art and Communication” at Bielefeld University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF). My talk was mainly based upon thoughts sketched out in two posts from the series on “Algorithm Regulation” on this blog:
- Algorithm Regulation #9: YouTube and the Comeback of Copyright Registration
- Algorithm Regulation #10: YouTube as a Transnational Rights Clearing Center
Cross-post: a (somewhat provocative) piece from the IDS Blog, addressing the increasing focus in many development programmes on bringing “youth” into labour markets, and some of the issues that are missed in the process.
Youth and young people are becoming a hot topic among development donors and actors. But who exactly do these “labels” apply to, and are they too broad for effective policies? Or do they create too narrow a focus which is blind to larger structural issues?
Varyingly, youth are identified as “at risk” – of unemployment, of marginalisation or abuses – or “as risk”, where they may engage in undesirable activities from crime to terrorism, armed violence or migration. However, there are also many calls to understand youth “as opportunity”, particularly in the context of Africa’s “youth bulge” and its promise of a vast demographic dividend.
A recent visit to the Dutch Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) and some great discussions with research colleagues there, brought some clarity into the interlinked promises and problems arising from development actors’ burgeoning interest in youth and work. Clearly, a better understanding of the specific vulnerabilities and needs of particular young subpopulations is useful, and related efforts should be welcomed.
But if applied wrongly, a simplistic focus on young people (or a narrow “youth lens”) may obscure more than it illuminates. The reasons include categories that are too unclear, heterogeneous needs and what a “youth” focus misses.
In the context of questions around young people’s labour market prospects, particularly in agriculture, which both IDS and KIT are working on, these are particularly salient.
On February 1st I joined the Department of Organization and Learning at University of Innsbruck as a professor of business administration with a focus on organization. One of the most challenging and, at the same time, tempting tasks as a newly appointed professor is the opportunity to design at least some new courses from scratch. In particular, I was so lucky to being offered to teach the module on “Current Issues in Organization Studies”, which allowed me to design a course I have been wanting to give for a long time: “Open Organizations and Organizing Openness“.
The overall rationale for the structure of the course follows the imperative formulated by Tkacz (2012: 404, PDF) in his “critique of open politics”:
To describe the political organisation of all things open requires leaving the rhetoric of open behind.
As a consequence, the lecture part of the course is organized around different aspects or dimensions of organizational openness such as boundaries, transparency, participation or emergence. The respective readings only peripherally address the issue of openness but rather shall provide the building blocks for arriving at a more precise and theoretically grounded understanding of openness. Read the rest of this entry »
The German Science Foundation is funding a new research unit based at Freie Universität Berlin with the topic “Organized Creativity: Practices for Inducing and Coping with Uncertainty“.
The research unit examines the challenging question of how creativity can be socially organized. It comprises four projects, each of which examines different dimensions of uncertainty in a specific area of organizing practices: collaborative practices, temporal practices, and regulatory practices.
Doctoral positions (and one postdoc) are open at the different partner universities of the research unit, which is comprised of the following scholars:
Prof. Dr. Jörg Sydow, Freie Universität Berlin (spokesperson)
Prof. Jana Costas, Ph.D., Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder
Prof. Dr. Leonhard Dobusch, Universität Innsbruck
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Hafen City University, Hamburg
Prof. Dr. Oliver Ibert, Freie Universität Berlin and IRS Erkner
Prof. Gregory Jackson, Ph.D., Freie Universtität Berlin
Prof. Dr. Sigrid Quack, Universität Duisburg-Essen
Prof. Dr. Elke Schüßler, Freie Universität Berlin and (from 1.5.16) Johannes Kepler Universität Linz
The dreadful state of copyright law in the digital age can be nicely illustrated by a thought experiment.* If one thinks back to 1980, it is hard to imagine how one could have committed a copyright violation with a book, an LP or a reel of film. Lending the book to a friend, duplicating parts – or even the whole book – on a photocopier, or staging a reading were all possible without clarifying rights. While copyright was already a complex matter at that time, until the internet it played little role in most people’s everyday lives.
Today everything is different. Anyone who uses a smartphone to video everyday experiences and share them with friends in a personal blog will hardly be able to avoid violating copyright. A couple of seconds of music or a poster in the background will suffice if “making publicly available” in the internet violates copyright. Many of the most creative digital artforms, such as remix and mashup, are almost impossible to disseminate by legal means, still less to commercialise. The use of even the briefest music or video sequence must be legally clarified, and in most cases this is much too complicated and expensive. Libraries, museums and archives battle with similar problems, preventing them from digitising their holdings.
Introducing a Right to Remix?
Apart from shorter copyright periods, there would be two other sensible approaches to solving this problem. Firstly, a European harmonisation and expansion of the catalogue of copyright limitations and exceptions would be sensible. The introduction of a de minimis or remix exemption modelled on the fair use clause in US copyright, combined with the forms of flat-fee reimbursement established in Europe, would enable new forms of recreational and remix creativity. Even for commercial publication of remixes and mashups all that would be required is to notify the relevant copyright collecting society (as is already the case for cover versions), in place of the complicated and expensive process of clarifying rights. Secondly, the establishment of a European register of works would simplify clarification of rights and restrict ongoing copyright protection (after an initial period) to cases where works are in fact still in commercial circulation.
Blogging about organizational strategy and even using blogs as a strategy-making device is an increasingly common practice among (not only) young firms. For instance, in a paper* co-authored with Thomas Gegenhuber, we analyze strategy blogging as an open strategy practice that increases transparency of and involvement in strategy making, while at the same time adding to the corporate impression management repertoire.
Consequentially, it comes at no surprise that non-profit organizations such as Creative Commons, which heavily rely on external communities such as different groups of license users, also engage in strategy blogging. Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons, started the series of strategy posts with general reflections on sharing, followed by suggestions for the overall mission and role of Creative Commons in his second post:
CC must recognize its various roles in a variety of diverse and active communities. We provide essential infrastructure for the Web, and are vital contributors and leaders in these global movements. The opportunity to realize the benefits of openness will come from showing how “open” is uniquely able to solve the challenges of our time. Our role is not just as providers of tools, but also as strategic partners, advocates, influencers, and supporters to quantify, evangelize, and demonstrate the benefits of open.
Only after announcing that Creative Commons had received a $10 million grant from the The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to implement the new strategy, Merkley identified “three specific areas” that Creative Commons will focus on (emphasis in original: Read the rest of this entry »