Saturday, August 4, 2012

It's not just a game ...

... it's a new type of management structure.

Your weekend long form reading is this article by Yanis Varoufakis of Valve, examining Valve's corporate culture from the economist's perspective: Why Valve? Or, what do we need corporations for and how does Valve’s management structure fit into today’s corporate world?:

I attempted to place Valve’s quirky management structure in the context of time-honoured debates and perspectives. Central to my narrative of ‘Valve’s way’ was the notion of an ‘alternative spontaneous order’: one that emerges within a corporation (as opposed to within a market-society) on the basis of individual time allocations (as opposed to price signals). The tantalising thought arose, during my musings, that this organisational structure may be as scalable as a market mechanism

How much of this transformation is due to the enabling powers of the computer? The author suggests, quite a lot:

The eradication of distribution and marginal costs, the capacity of producers to have direct access to billions of customers instantaneously, the advances of open source communities and mentalities, all these fascinating developments are bound to turn the autocratic Soviet-like megaliths of today into curiosities that students of political economy, business studies et al will marvel at in the future, just like school children marvel at dinosaur skeletons at the Natural History museum.

Many fascinating side discussions in the comments as well.

But, uhm, nothing new about The Next Game...

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