What virtual organisations can learn from linux communities

I came across an interesting paper, Management and Virtual Decentralised Networks: The Linux Project, published in First Monday in October 2001 by George Dafermos as part of his Masters Programme in Management at Durham Business School in the UK.

The paper explores in detail the Virtual Networked Organisation paradigm and uses the Linux Project and its development model as a case study to try and identify critical success factors for virtual organisations.

Even though the paper is nearly four years old it provides an excellent in depth foundation to the topic (with 66 pages and nearly a hundred references).

The three main points which I took away were:

  1. The importance of management in creating the environment for effective virtuality

  2. The importance of the communications platform as a key evolving and and enabling element in the overall organisational ecosystem

  3. The need for talented and committed resources in virtual endeavours and the challenges in securing them

Exploring each of these in a little more depth...

Management in the Virtual Organisation

The author concludes that three things are critical from a management perspective:

  1. decision-making should be based on merit (and not on status) and be transparent throughout the entire organisation

  2. the organisational and project design should maximize organisational learning and empower big teams to collaborate digitally

  3. the focus should shift from Organisational Dynamics to Economic Web (Network) dynamics

Virtual technology as a "Virtual Roof"

George introduces a concept he calls “The Virtual Roof” which refers to the electronic mechanisms by which the virtual organisation communicates

“The virtual roof is the common denominator of the users, the implementers and the surrounding community and acts as intermediary (as a trusted third party) to ensure trust in a largely anonymous virtual marketplace by providing an electronic platform whereby network communication is nurtured”.

The Top challenge for a virtual organisation – attracting the needed talent!

The paper suggests that one of the biggest challenges in any virtual organisation such as Linux is attracting the abundant brainpower (a 'legion of workers') needed to support massive decentralised collaboration.

For such a venture to work and be truly creative four conditions are suggested that should be met:

  1. The users and the implementers overlap or communicate directly without interference of a filtering layer-mechanism - implementers and users have common objectives

  2. The organisational 'copyleft' is put into place to reward and encourage transparency and sharing of information

  3. Deeply rooted trust within the surrounding community-network

  4. Fluid networked organisational structure that gives rise to positive hyper competition and meritocratic self-selection of task owners

Comments (0)| Related (3) |

Print this article


Bioteams Books Reviews

Organisations are complex living systems claims leading scientist

Organisations are complex living systems claims leading scientist

Fritjof Capra says organisations are not just like living systems - they are living systems! In his latest book, The Hidden Connections, Fritjof Capra, acclaimed physicist and author of the Web of Life and the Tao of Physics, challenges us to go beyond the metaphor and see to what extent human organisations can literally be understood as living systems.

Buy it now from:

(1) |

continue reading

Click here to check all Bioteams book reviews

Ken's LinkedIn Profile

Follow Ken's Blogs

NASA Widget2_160x40.jpg


Featured Categories

Trending Topics

agility analytics ants autopoiesis bees biomimicry bioteaming bioteams change management collaboration Collaboration collective intelligence community complex systems dashboards digital dashboards ecosystems excel experiential learning flock games high-performing teams HPT innovation leadership learning meetings mobile phones organizational teams penguins pheromones self-managed teams serious games simulators social media Social Networks social networks social software swarm swarm intelligence swarmteams teams teamwork The Networked Enterprise tit for tat VEN videos virtual communities virtual enterprise virtual enterprise networks virtual teams visualization web2.0 wisdom of crowds

Click for more...

Featured Article

Team joining hands

The secret DNA of high-performing virtual teams

Bioteaming – the secret to high-performing, self-organising, virtually networked teams... more

Locations of visitors to this page

Bioteams iphone app
Bioteams android app

Search www.bioteams.com

Bioteams Lite


Latest Full Articles

Bioteams Assessor - Instantly check how good your team is?
BioScore Calculator – Instantly see if you need Bioteams
Discover Bioteams principles Yourself via Action Learning

Bioteams Manifesto

Communities and Networks Connection

Bioteams Ice-Breaker Zone

Only Fools and Horses Video Clip Funny Team Collaboration Video Dilbert Mission Statement Generator Ali G Video Funny Red Dwarf Video  FatherTed  Pixar

News Feed

Sign up for RSS   RSS Feed Subscription
        (What's RSS?)

10 Most popular posts

Recent posts


Download Browsealoud