The Wealth of Networks: how free producers are transforming the traditional enterprise

The Wealth of Networks: how free producers are transforming the traditional enterprise

An ESMT Open Lecture with Prof. Dr. Dr. Ayad Al-Ani, Professor of Business Policy and Public Management, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin
http://www.esmt.org/open-lecture-al-ani

September 16, 2013, 6:30pm
Moderator: Tina Groll, Editor, ZEIT ONLINE

Peer-to-Peer networks, such as the collaboration of thousands of free producers, have recently emerged as one of the most innovative forces in the traditional business world and in the political world. These free producers, or peer producers as they are also called, work together, unpaid, outside of normal work and business structures to create new designs, learning content, reports, encyclopedias, evaluate patents, and much more.

This new type of social production or self-determination, driven by crowd intelligence, is capturing the motivation and untapped skills of vast numbers of participants. These "organizations", which are governed by principles of autonomy and self- regulation, have sometimes been able to surpass their business competitors in developing software and writing news and the like. Using these new organizational designs, political P2P-entities have also entered the political arena by mobilizing civil society and contributing to issue-solving processes. Recent examples of this include the Global Occupy Movement and the Pirate Party in Germany.

The success of these new organizational forms has attracted the attention of classic structured companies as well as political entrepreneurs who are all trying to take advantage of this new collaboration by establishing platforms to integrate P2P-power into traditional structures and management. This relationship is not easy nor is it self-enforcing. It requires a new understanding of management and leadership, innovation, production, marketing and communications. This raises a number of questions, such as, who is going to change whom? How should businesses engage with and utilize these organizations? What are the risks in moving from such structured hierarchies to platforms? What are the potential rewards for businesses that successfully collaborate? And finally, how will our career paths be affected and changed?