Three Principles of Social Organization

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= From Paul Adler’s and Charles Heckscher’s remarkable paper on collaborative community

Graphic at


David Ronfeldt:

"This table (p. 16) distinguishes three approaches to coordination: hierarchy, market, and community. The authors focus is the corporate business realm. Their concern is that hierarchy and market ways of doing things have eroded community ways far more than is desirable, especially now that collaborative knowledge production is becoming paramount. What’s needed is a new kind of community principle to go along with the hierarchy and market principles. By “community” they mean much that other analysts mean by “network” and related terms — thus their trifold array is quite standard. But their key point is unusual: They advise against returning to the old form of community, because it would draw sharp distinctions between insiders and outsiders, protect traditional values, and stifle individual autonomy and creativity. Instead, what’s needed is the development of a new, higher form — “collaborative community” — that would engage participants who have multiple identities, stimulate the collective creation of shared value, and place trust in peer dialogue, review, and accountability. Indeed, they say (p. 37), “without a rebuilding of communal institutions, the potential of a knowledge economy cannot be realized.” Their best examples presently lie in the scientific community and the open-software movement." (


More Information

  1. The Corporation as a Collaborative Community. Charles Heckscher & Paul Adler. Absolutely remarkable history of organizational forms as distinct coordination mechanisms. [1]