From a market orientation to a mission orientation

There are many ways to describe the p2p (r)evolution that we are advocating and monitoring here, and how precisely it relates to existing business structures and models.

One of the ways to describe it is that we are evolving away from market supremacy, not by abolishing market players and the market, but by subsuming it to higher ethical goals. In other words, we are no longer assuming that market transactions automatically lead to a beneficial outcome for the common good, but want to structurally embed this in new modalities of governance.

Unlike what could be perceived as the proposals and strategy of the traditional left, this aim is not to be achieved through centralization or regulation (though both may be necessary and appropriate in certain circumstances), but by embedding this in the very purpose and internal workings of institutions, such as market players.

Here are a few citations we have collected, which are attempting to express this shift:

(go here for the sources)

* David Bollier: Competing ‘on top’ of the Commons

“One of the best ways to stimulate competition, innovation and lower prices is for participants in a market to honor the commons (a shared pool of resources, a minimal set of safety or performance standards) and then to compete “on top” of the commons. Instead of being able to reap easy profits from monopoly control over something everyone needs — say, a computer operating system like Windows — a company must work harder to “add value” in more specialized ways.” (

* Eric Kluitenberg: The Sharing Economy should be distinguished from the Monetary Economy

“… the quest for self-determination and meaningful and memorable experiences ultimately will hinge on people’s understanding that they are not merely consuming a product, but that they are actually participating in a meaningful social process not guided by an extrinsic logic (profit), something that rather has intrinsic, or ‘sovereign’ value. I don’t believe that these two can be fused into one

* Walter Powell: Market Logic vs. Network Logic

“The philosophy that undergirds exchange also contrasts sharply across forms. In markets the standard strategy is to drive the hardest possible bargain in the immediate exchange. In networks, the preferred option is often one of creating indebtedness and reliance over the long haul. Each approach thus devalues the other: prosperous market traders would be viewed as petty and untrustworthy shysters in networks, while successful participants in networks who carried those practices into competitive markets would be viewed as foolish and naive… In a market context, it is clear to everyone concerned when a debt has been discharged, but such matters and not nearly as obvious in networks.”

* Peter Suber: From Profit-Maximization and Market-Orientation to Mission-Focused

Profit maximizing limits access to knowledge, by limiting it to paying customers. If anyone thinks this is just a side-effect of today’s market incentives, then we can put the situation differently: Profit maximizing doesn’t always limit access to knowledge, but is always ready to do so if it pays better. This proposition has a darker corollary: Profit maximizing doesn’t always favor untruth, but is always ready to do so if it would pay better. … Instead of hypnotically granting the primacy of markets in all sectors, as if there were no exceptions, we should remember that many organizations compromise profits or relinquish revenues in order to foster their missions, and that we all benefit from their dedication. Which institutions and sectors ought to do so, and how should we protect and support them to pursue their missions? Instead of smothering these questions for offending the religion of markets, we should open them for wider discussion. Should scholarly publishing, with all of its mixed incentives and hard choices, migrate closer to market-oriented end of the spectrum or to the mission-oriented end of the spectrum?

* Tim Lee: Markets without Money

“Money is a very important and useful medium of exchange for high-value, tangible products. For small-value, intangible products, the costs tend to exceed the value of the transactions—especially when you add in the overhead associated with making payments at a distance. Fortunately, human beings are clever. We’ve begun to find a variety of substitutes for money that work better.”

* Umair Haque: Monetization vs. Community value creation

“When you try and “monetize your users”, you accept the almost obscene assumption that people are meant to be pimped out, sold to the highest bidder, resources to be slashed, burned, and exploited. But that’s not how the edgeconomy works. Businesses need what connected consumers have to give more than connected consumers need what businesses have to sell. Let’s put that a little more formally. Monetization is ugly because it blinds us to the truth that value must flow in many directions. That’s the essence of edge strategy, in fact.”

* Muhammad Yunus: The New Social Capitalism

“Capitalism takes a narrow view of human nature, assuming that people are one dimensional beings concerned only with the pursuit of maximum profit. The concept of the free market, as generally understood, is based on this one- dimensional human being. Mainstream freemarket theory postulates that you are contributing to the society and the world in the best possible manner if you just concentrate on getting the most for yourself. […] The presence of our multi- dimensional personalities means that not every business should be bound to serve the single objective of profit maximization”

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