Networking works

Posted on: November 13, 2009

How important are networks and communities in building successful markets? It’s a question that anyone looking at this year’s Nobel prize for economic sciences just has to ask themselves.

Professor Elinor Ostrom is the first woman to win the prize. She’s been recognised for her work on “the Commons” – meaning anything that’s collectively owned, such as common land.

Before Elinor came along, conventional economic theory was that if there is a commonly-owned resource, the people who own it will always act individually in their own self-interest – and ultimately damage or destroy the whole resource, so that everybody loses. It’s a pretty sorry reflection of the human race.

She challenged this dogma. She showed that commons can in fact be managed in a way that leads to shared prosperity, if the individuals using it can develop the right methods and institutions to manage it.

In recent years her work has been proven by many of you reading this. If you’ve used ‘open source’ software, you’re part of a self-policing network that allows commonly-owned assets to be used widely, rather than used up. By acting as a community rather than a set of individuals, everybody wins.

There must be products and services other than software that this could apply to – I’d love to hear your views.


3 Responses to "Networking works"

The Unicorn Grocery in Chorlton is a good example I reckon

Good direction. I’m going to look up her work

Thanks for the comments, owen59 and Julian. Owen – this is my very first blog so I’m sorry you won’t have found much else – but watch this space!

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