Responsibility in open vs. closed systems of cooperation

An excerpt from Open Collaboration Journal: issue1. In one of the articles, Alden Bevington discusses the transparent ground of an open stakeholder model.

The author gives a detailed treatment of the Greek financial crisis in this context.


“In any system, efficiency, and perhaps even sustainability, appears directly proportionate to the degree of transparency of known issues to all collaborators/stakeholders, and to the degree of opt-in responsibility for picking up the slack for the collective goal of project success.

About transparency in an Open Collaboration:

In a value-driven open collaborative project, such as one governing a common property, participants are incentivized to be transparent in their known issues, not only because they expect that someone else with more expertise will be able to pick up the slack and fix the problem, thus sustaining the resource that they too have an interest/share in, but also because the usual negative incentives are not present, mainly that hierarchical position, ownership status, a facade of star-quality (which relies to a degree upon non-transparency), and resource acquisition capacity will not be affected adversely.

Transparency can feel safe in an environment where those who are being shared with share the same goals, and thus are disincentivized to exploiting the ‘weakness’ for non-whole-system (or even predicted trickle-down) gain.

In such an environment based on commons, transparency leads to opt-in responsibility for problem fixes by common owners based on shared goals. It doesn’t matter if this opt-in responsibility is selfish or altruistic to get the job done.

About transparency in a closed-stakeholder model:

But opt-in responsibility is very different creature from the ‘pick up the slack’ that happens when two owned-hierarchical systems collide, or more notably for this era of the privatization of the commons, when non-owned and owned systems collide, especially when relatively non-owned systems, such as a national bank or a property-in-common, are leased for profit, or even bailed out for profit by an owned system such as a share-holder corporation or an investment bank, as we’ve seen in Greece recently (Jan. 2010). The events in Greece were the paragon of what we’re talking about here, with non-transparency driven by political face saving (threat to individual hierarchal position) leading to a backroom privatized government bailout. The maintained opacity of this fact to stakeholders, the Greek people and even Europe’s central bank, led to the dissolution of accurate feedback loops, then leading to system failure. Ripples rippled throughout all other members of its larger economic system.”

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