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This section covers both 1) the organizational microscale formats or methods used to govern peer production, FLOSS, and other non-coercive methods of governance; 2) the evolution on a macro-scale towards the dominance of collaborative networks

This section is maintained by Michel Bauwens and George Dafermos

(this area is under construction: the Encyclopedia items related to governance have been ported until but not including M)


  1. Please read the following excerpts of David Ronfeldt on the Evolution of Governance
  2. You may want to read this important discussion document by Erik Douglas, Peer to Peer and the Four Pillars of Democracy, which examines the relationship between Peer Governance and representative democracy.
  3. Henry Mintzberg's Taxonomy of Organizational Forms, is good as backgrounder.
  4. Billy Matheson's graphical representation on how relationaly may or will affect governance


Short Citations

the trust is to the commons as the corporation is to the market

- Peter Barnes [1]

There are already plenty of existing examples to show that stakeholder trusts can achieve things that neither government nor markets can: responsible and equitable long-term management of a shared resource.

- David Bollier [2]

The industrial Age of modernization brings the Secularization of authority, whereas the postindustrial stage brings emancipation from authority

- Alan Moore [3]

The single most fundamental impact from all of these new capabilities may be felt in connection with the way in which we form the middle tier of the social fabric — organized, persistent, collaborating (non–governmental) groups.

- David Johnson [4]

if we want to create an environment in which users have refined control, political control, you have to deal with two obstacles -- making code subject to political control, and making it possible for the group to own their own environment.

- adapted from Clay Shirky [5]

Wikipedia’s success dramatizes instead a change in the nature of authority, moving from trust inhering in guarantees offered by institutions to probabilities created by processes.

- Clay Shirky [6]

Self-organization and strong central control are (not) incompatible: individual projects self-organize because the participants choose to be there--they select themselves, and they choose to follow the project's benevolent dictator (or else they leave).

- Eric Raymond [7]

Long Citations

E.F. Schumacher against the professional cooptation of community:

"The professional co-option of community efforts to invent appropriate techniques for citizens to care in community has been pervasive. Therefore, we need to identify the characteristics of those social forms that are resistant to colonization by service technologies while enabling communities to cultivate and care. These authentic social forms are characterized by three basic dimensions: they tend to be uncommodified, unmanaged, and uncurricularized. The tools of the bereavement counselor make grief into a commodity rather than an opportunity for community. Service technologies convert conditions into commodities and care into service.

The tools of the manager convert communality into hierarchy, replacing consent with control. Where once there was a commons, the manager creates a corporation. The tools of the pedagogue create monopolies in the place of cultures. By making a school of every-day life, community definitions and citizen action are degraded and finally expelled. It is this hard-working team—the service professional, the manager, and the pedagogue—that pulls the tools of "community busting" through the modern social landscape. If we are to recultivate community, we will need to return this team to the stable, abjuring their use." (


The entries in the directory below covers different aspects which should be distinguished from each other:

1. the forms of peer governance of open/free communities and peer production groups

See A Model of a Mature Open Source Project for a case study of the Plone community.

1.A - informal leadership models that are pragmatically used to govern such projects: what is the nature of leadership and hierarchy in peer production? See Hierarchy, Leadership and search for these concepts as well as "Authority" in the wiki's search box.

1.B. the use of formal management models

Chaordic Organizations - Characteristics , Consensus , Consent vs. Consensus , Coordination Format , Council Ceremony , Harmonization Governance , Heterarchy , Holacracy , Horizontal Accountablity , Leaderless Organizations , Open Organization , Sociocracy

1.C the use of legal formats such as Foundations to formalize leadership of the infrastructure that enables the common production to occur.

Burning Man - Governance , Free Software Foundation , FLOSS - Governance , FLOSS Foundations , GNOME Foundation , Mozilla Foundation, OpenBSD Foundation

1.D formal legislative process in government and political parties.

Apart from non-representational self-governance models in the small teams responsible for peer production, whenever the allocation of scarce resources need to takes place, 'peer-informed' representational models will arise.

See for an example, the Green Party Integrated Consensus-Consent-Voting Model

2. the methods of production used in peer production: how is the work actually done?

2.A. the tools used in the production process (ie. Bitkeeper, CVS, etc.)

2.B the design of interactions at the level of the product/technological architecture (modularity, encapsulation, information hiding)

3. the forms of governance/ownership/income distribution for the derived and monetizable service and market-oriented production models that derive from commons-related projects

3.A. Modes of capital organization

Trusts ; Capital Commons Trusts , Cooperatives , Limited Liability Partnership , Mutual Home Ownership , Open Organization

3.B. Modes of property organization

General Public License , Creative Commons

3.C Modes of revenue sharing with commercial partners

(includes netarchical and vectoralist partners)

4. political governance models for the whole of society that are inspired by peer to peer models or principles

Citizen Dialogue and Deliberation , Commons , Community Assets , Coordination Format , Council Ceremony , Delegative Democracy , Deliberative Democracy , Deliberative Development , Democracy 2.1 , Disaggregated Democracy , Extreme Democracy , Gaian Democracies , Global Microstructures , Global Villages , Glocalized Networks , Inclusive Democracy , Megacommunities , Participatory Democracy Networks

5. Political philosophies and governance proposals inspired by peer to peer (egalitarian) ideals.

Resources at the P2P Foundation


Check out the Archive of the P2P Foundation blog on P2P Hierarchy Theory, for a full record on our articles.

Here's a selection:

Dave Ellerman's Helping Theory

Riane Eisler's Partnership Society

Rank thinking vs. peer thinking

Edelman: Trusting peers more than institutions


  • P2P Governance [8]
  • P2P Politics [9]
  • P2P Political Theory [10]
  • P2P Commons [11]
  • Alterglobalization Movement [12]
  • Internet Governance [13]
  • Cooperatives [14]
  • P2P Hierarchy Theory [15]


Other Resources


  1. A Crowd of One by John Clippinger, discusses how to design and implement the next generation of post-Enlightenment institutions.
  2. Protocol by Alexander Galloway, discusses the nature of power in distributed networks.
  3. The Success of Open Source, by Steve Webber, discusses the governance of free software and open sorce software projects in detail.


Read his summary: A Spectrum of Politics and Governance Grounded in Empowered Citizen Dialogue and Deliberation, [16]

There is an extraordinary collection of concrete research on the governance of peer production communities (Debian, Apache), accessible from here [17], which leads to two seminar pages here [18] and here [19]. If you know French, this is highly recommended.

The Observatory of Public Debates [20] has an observatory for free software that can be used for internet-based public debate processes [21]


The P2P Governance Encyclopedia


This category has the following 2 subcategories, out of 2 total.


Pages in category "Governance"

The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 1,596 total.

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