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Among those immediately affected by the Executive Order signed by President Trump to suspend entry into the United States of citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen are academics with plans to attend research conferences in the US. For instance, the most important conference in the field of management – the Academy of Management (AoM) Annual Meeting – is scheduled to take place in August 4-8, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Actually, the Annual Meeting has historically only been held in the US and in Canada.

Since papers for AoM Meeting had to be submitted by early January, several scholars whith accepted papers might not be able to attend the conference. Obviously, this would be an issue of great concern for any scholarly association. Accordingly, the AoM officials released a statement today on the subject matter:

Our members hold a range of views on the public policies that have recently been implemented. Many of you have expressed concern about travel to the Annual Meeting in Atlanta; many are interpreting the Executive Order as a direct attack on scholarship; and some are worried about the implication for pluralism on all sides of this issue. A number of you have asked the AOM to condemn the order as antithetical to scholarly values, academic freedom, and democratic processes. Yet because of our very diversity, the AOM has long had a binding policy that restricts any officer from taking a stand on any political issue in the name of the AOM.

Several of my colleagues have voiced strong opposition to such a “neutral” positioning of the AoM, mostly arguing that refusing to take a stance actually implies taking a stance. For instance, Guido Palazzo commented on Facebook:

Other scholarly associations in the social sciences decided to be more vocal on the issue. The statement by the American Sociological Association is all but neutral on the Executive Order:
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When Creative Commons published version 4.0 of its set of alternative copyright licenses in 2013, this represented a sea change. While previously a generic set of licenses had been legally adapted to different jurisdictions (“ported”), version 4.0 of the licenses was developed as a single globally applicable license standard. To a certain degree, a decade of laborious license porting helped to build an international network of legal professionals and a respective body of legal knowledge, which than enabled Creative Commons to abandon its porting strategy.


More than three years after this “globalization” of Creative Commons’ licenses, the NGO strives to also globalizing its organizational structure. By March 24, 2017, the various communities of Creative Commons activists, lawyers and contributors may comment on a detailed proposal for an entirely new governance structure. The proposal is accompanied by several regional and a global “Faces of the Commons” reports and additional background information on the process that led to the proposal – a particular open form of strategy-making. Read the rest of this entry »

Since the beginning of 2017, over 60 large German universities and other research institutions lack access to journals published by scientific publishing giant Elsevier. Paradoxically, this escalation in the conflict between research institutions and Elsevier is actually a good thing. To a certain degree, the battle puts to test a great thought experiment provided by James Heathers last year. In his post he applied The Garbage Strike Test to the contemporary scientific publishing system:

What happens [when garbagemen just stop doing their job]? Almost immediately, massive stinking middens of rancid trash build up. Streets became partially inaccessible. Rats run rampant. Cities marinate in their own furious stink. Rocks are thrown at strike-breakers and scabs. Mayors call meetings.

In the end, garbagemen win in such struggles because they are (a) truly necessary, (b) on the right side of public opinion, and (c) something whose absence horrifies people utterly. If you apply this scenario to large academic publishers, assuming that they “suddenly refused anyone any access to any of their copyrighted materials at 9am tomorrow morning ”, the outcome would differ substantially: Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Patrick Hochstenbach, CC-BY-SA

Patrick Hochstenbach, CC-BY-SA

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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 »

OSN-LogoFueled 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.

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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:

Please find a video auf my talk and the respective slideshare embedded below:




Uibk-logo-miniOn 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 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.

Cover of the reader on "The Digital Society" by the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation

Cover of the reader on “The Digital Society” by the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation

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.

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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 »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
February 2017
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