Collaborative Entrepreneurship: Idealism or an Emerging Reality? Towards an Alternative Inter-Organizational Model for Re-Humanizing Management
40 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2008 Last revised: 1 Dec 2008
This paper examines a new inter-organizational form which is emerging from collaborative innovation processes within and across communities of firms operating in complementary markets.
Idea sharing think tanks around high tech centers at leading universities and, more generally, around clusters, are well-documented phenomena. These inter-organizational processes and forms rest on collaborative capabilities. However, mainstream theories and even policies aimed at developing these capabilities are based on an incomplete set of assumptions about human nature, which constrain the very development of capabilities sought by them.
The argument of this paper is that the sustainability of the processes and results of the emergent inter-organizational communities depends on a richer set of assumptions about human nature than that provided by mainstream management theories. The risks and demands involved in the design and operation of cross-organization collaborative communities require a challenging set of assumptions about human nature, which go far beyond the notion of enlightened self-interest embedded in neo-classical economics and even beyond the more complex models of human needs and motivation currently employed.
Building on this argument and the evaluation of actual communities of firms, this paper contributes an inter-organizational network model based on the assumptions about human motives and choice offered by Aristotle.
The conclusions of this paper are twofold. First, it argues that enlightened self-interest hinders rather than fosters the process of developing collaborative capabilities, given that this process will stop when difficulties affecting the pay-offs of the relationship arise in the short run. Second, it explains that a set of assumptions that takes both self-regarding and other' regarding preferences as ends is required in order to develop and sustain collaborative capabilities in the analyzed inter-organizational communities. Members of such communities have to understand and share these assumptions on a continuing basis in order to sustain their collaborative efforts and outcomes.
Keywords: Collaboration, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, inter-organizational networks, management, assumptions, organizational forms, self-love, Aristotle, motives, practical rationality, Economics
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