“adhocracy” – yet another governance-kid on the block  25.10.10

Piotr Konieczny proposes in the recent issue of the Journal of Information Technology & Politics that Wikipedia is an “adhocracy”. Adhocracies, as suggested by Mintzberg and McHugh in the mid-eighties, have the following five features:

1. They operate in a complex and dynamic environment and are highly innovative. 2. Innovations require highly trained and motivated experts. 3. The experts may be formally allocated to different divisions but usually work in informal, multidisciplinary teams. 4. Coordination and communication rely on semiformal structures, while more formalized structures and managerial practices are rare. 5. Parts of the organization are highly decentralized.

Konieczny sees “fundamental similarities” between “adhocracy” to the “open-source development models”. He uses Bauwens’ concept of commons-based peer production as an example of those “open-source development models”. All the characteristics of Bauwens’ cbpp would also define to “adhocracy”. All, but one: “financial gain as a motivator”.

The problem here is that Bauwens uses a normatively stricter, more egalitarian, less capitalistic version of Benkler’s commons-based peer production. Benkler uses Wikipedia as an example for commons-based peer production, Konieczny for adhocracy. I don’t quite get it. A rather mediocre article, even more so as the review of the Wikipedia research literature appears to be incomplete.

Konieczny, Piotr (2010) ‘Adhocratic Governance in the Internet Age: A Case of Wikipedia’, Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 7: 4, 263 — 283 (DOI: 10.1080/19331681.2010.489408)

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