Effort-sharing Systems

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= proposed concept for the organization of human production systems, as an alternative to market allocation

Proposed by Siefkes, Christian, in his book about the Peerconomy, entitled From Exchange to Contributions

The book introduces related concepts such as Task Auctioning Distribution Pools as mechanisms to determine voluntary effort sharing.

It can be argued that the already existing systems of Open Development in Open Source Software Peer Production are a form of effort sharing already.


What they are not

Christian Siefkes (list-en, April 2008):

- Not an exchange system

A problem with LETS is that they don't have a model of cooperation (they basically assume that everybody produces in isolation), while my model is all about cooperation. Another problem is that they still presuppose _exchange_: in order to participate in a LETS, you need to offer something that others want to have. But in my model, you don't exchange anything with anybody, you just need to be ready to contribute your part to the overall effort (by picking up some of the tasks than need to be done). Hence the problem that every market, or LETS, participant faces ("What can I offer that the others need, and how can I convince them that they need it?"), simply does not emerge.

- Not a market

a market requires independent buyers and sellers. If something (goods or tasks or whatever) is merely divided up between a group of people, that's not a market because there is no independence. A group of people preparing a joint dinner and distributing the tasks necessary for preparing it among themselves are not a "market" (not even if those who want to eat more have to prepare more).

- Not a market for labour

in the peerconomy, it's not really people competing for tasks, but rather tasks competing for people who will do them. You don't compete with other people in order to be able to work (as in capitalism), since the work necessary to produce goods is simply _divided up_ among the people who want them. The risk of unemployment (not being able to sell your labor power and hence not being able to get the things you need or want) does not exist, so you don't have accept any conditions which anybody dictates you (in fact, there is nobody who could dictate conditions, just you and your co-prosumers dividing up the work it takes to reach your goals).

Hence, the leveling tendency of the capitalistic necessity to sell your labor power never emerges, and therefore it is really the preferences of people about which tasks they like and don't like that determines the "weight" of tasks, i.e., whether you have to work longer or shorter in order to do your part.

(Another important difference of the fact the work is merely divided up is that, while you'll have to work a little, you probably won't have to work very much. While in capitalism you sell your labor power, and accordingly your employer determines how much you work--you might prefer to work less, but unless you're in a privileged position you often won't be able to do so.)

See also

  1. Effort Trading