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One of the things that make blogs particularly interesting are series. The “series” series recommends series at related blogs. “Blue Collar Professor” Shawn Humphrey is the initiator of the student-oriented Month of Microfinance and the Two Dollar Challenge. He teaches a variety of development-related courses in most fascinating ways, among other things having his students sleep in cardboard box shelters and (for better or worse) roping them into the operations of a Honduran microfinance institution. 

Usually narrated in a personal, essayistic style, Humphrey’s blog offers candid and often bravely self-critical insights into the vicissitudes of trying to “do good” and “development” – and of teaching American students how/how not to do it. Even though they’re hardly always up my alley (as with the suggestion that “doing good” is a “market”) and not always palatable, Humphrey’s musings are ever thought-provoking, sometimes philosophical, and overall highly relevant given this blog’s consistent interest in ethical questions over social justice and philanthropy. It is my pleasure therefore (as the ninth instalment in our occasional series about great series on other blogs) to introduce “Do-Goodernomics / Do’s and Don’ts of Doing Good” with this reprinting of parts of some of my favourite posts.

We were just finishing up our conversation with Clementina when another van full of Gringos arrived. A middle-aged man in a ball cap and shades bounded over to us. “What are you all doing here?” he asked with a hint of accusation. I introduced myself and my students. I began a review of our microfinance program. And, somewhere between “no fees” and “no penalties” he lost interest.  “You know” he interrupted me. “Before we got here…,” there was a dramatic pause and a deep draw of breath “they had nothing.” He swept his hand over the small community of 30-plus families in makeshift shelters. “We built that meeting house. We built those two public restrooms. We are building that home.” He turned to place his eyes on my eyes. He removed his shades. He raised his cap. “You know without us I do not know whether or not they would have survived.”

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eutopia-logoAbout two years ago I blogged about zombie provisions of the failed ACTA treaty, which resurfaced in other treaties such the the“Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement” (CETA). In the new multingual Eutopia magazine I have now published an article on the currently debated Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP):

The dispute over the planned TTIP transatlantic free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States goes far beyond the treaty itself, the reason being the tradition in which TTIP is grounded.

It is merely the most recent acronym in a constantly expanding family of abbreviations, its best known members including GATT, TRIPS, GATS, MAI, ACTA, CETA and TPP*.


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The 31st EGOS Colloquium will take place from July 2–4, 2015 in Athens, Greece, and together with Georg von Krogh (ETH Zürich) and Richard Whittington (Oxford University) I will be convenor of a sub-theme on “Open Organizations for an Open Society? Practicing Openness in Innovation, Strategy and Beyond“. Please find the Call for Short Papers below, submission deadline is January 12, 2015:

EGOS2015-AthensOver the past decade, ‘openness’ has become one of the most imperative virtues of modern organizations. Originating in the field of open source software development (Raymond, 2001), we can observe increasing demands for all kinds of openness in fields such as open innovation (Chesbrough, 2006), open strategy (Whittington et al., 2011), open science (David, 1998) or open government (Janssen et al., 2012).

All these different ‘open paradigms’ share – and fuel – hopes of combining greater efficiency with more inclusive and transparent forms of organizing. In the context of open innovation, for instance, the literature anticipates technological (e.g. reduced production costs) and marketing (e.g. positive effects on reputation) benefits (Henkel et al., 2014). Open strategy, in turn, promises access to dispersed knowledge, with some even speaking of “democratizing strategy” (Stieger et al., 2013). In the realm of open government and open science, expected benefits are often connected with access to all kinds of open data (e.g. Molloy, 2011).

However, studies of openness in organizations also point to a number of potential weaknesses and pitfalls such as loss of knowledge and intellectual property (e.g. Henkel 2006; von Hippel & von Krogh, 2003). So, on the level of organizational practices, we need more research that addresses the challenges implied by greater openness in terms of organizational structures, boundaries and culture. And on a broader level, the boom of openness, as recently pointed out by Nathaniel Tkacz (2012), is curious within a supposedly already-open society (Popper, 1971). Why is there such a demand for openness and what does this tell us about society at large?

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The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
September 2014
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