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Edited by David Rooney, Greg Hearn and Abraham Ninan
Chapter 13: Collaboration and the Network Form of Organization in the New Knowledge-Based Economy
Thomas Mandeville The relatively recent quantum jump in the degree of cooperative activity between firms has been widely noted and commented upon in the economics and management literatures. Indeed, collaboration, the network form of organization, business alliances, industry–government collaboration, and inter-government cooperation have become commonplace in the knowledge-based economy (KBE). This chapter addresses a basic question of what is driving this phenomenon – why has this burst of collaborative activity and associated network of organizational forms in business and elsewhere become, as we shall see shortly, a defining feature of the new KBE era? Part of the answer, as will be shown, lies with widespread use of the Internet. Our frameworks for analysis of networks and collaboration, namely the economics of information and evolutionary complexity theory, the latter including the concept of self-organization, differ considerably from most earlier work. Previously, Williamson’s (1981) transactions-cost-based analysis of choices between markets and hierarchies has provided a basic framework for analysis of the economics of collaboration (Earl 2002). Here we also draw on that framework in places, but not greatly. In essence this chapter extends the transactions-cost-based analysis of collaboration by utilizing these two additional frameworks. What’s new about the new economy? A working definition of the new economy, for our purposes here, is: a communications revolution based mainly on business use of the Internet. By about the early 1990s, business and private individuals across the OECD started to adopt the Internet as a commercial and recreational medium; thus this time frame represents an...
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