For this week’s blog post, I would like to build on my entry from last week, and see if the online collaboration tool at IBM, Liquid, falls under Benkler’s categorization of Peer Production, or Collective Intelligence; or if it is more in line with Kadushin’s theory of how things get done within networks in an organization.
Benkler, Shaw & Hill take Peer Production to be a subset of Collective Intelligence (p. 1), each having their own distinguishing features:
Peer Production has (p. 3):
- Decentralized goal setting & task execution
- Motivations diverse and mostly non-monetary
- Functions outside the boundaries of firms, contracts and property rights
Collective Intelligence on the other hand has (p. 2):
- Centralized control of goal setting & task execution
- Narrower sets of motivations & incentives
- Functions within boundaries of firms, participants bound by contracts and property rights
Kadushin describes organizations as:
- Conforming to a system of rules, hierarchies and appointed leaders under ‘rational-legal authority’ system (Kadushin, 2012, p. 106)
- Consent is given by the subordinate rather than enforced by the leader (p. 91).
- Network density and betweeness impact information sharing, and give rise to information networks within the formal networks (p. 95)
Since Liquid does not have a formal hierarchy or appointed leaders, it is clear that it doesn’t follow the norm described by Kadushin as typical of networks in organizations. While the tasks setup as ‘events’ in Liquid can be completed by players across teams/lines of businesses, it is more decentralized than the day-to-day work that goes on in immediate teams, but still has centralized goals once an event is initiated between the initiator and player. Motivations are work-related, non-altruistic, and can involve some degree of compensation (depends on the event) over and above regular employment contractual details. The events are guided by formal contracts and property rights. As such, it would appear that Liquid most closely follows Benkler’s categorization of Collective Intelligence.