'Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom' Excerpt

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Markets work best when they are free, open, unfettered, unencumbered by monopolies, oligopolies, conspiracies and obnoxious practices. Corporate bureaucracies, by contrast, are the exact opposite. The book chapter explores how social media will impact the social architecture of corporations.

The Web 2.0 revolution has been frustrated by a powerful irony. The one place where Web 2.0 tools hold out the most promise to transform social organization is precisely the location where there has been the most resistance to change.

That place is the corporation.

Social media, as we have seen, are revolutionizing the way we interact with others, build social capital, even achieve fame and riches. Yet when Web 2.0 social platforms permeate corporate bureaucracies, they are often resisted as invasive and potentially threatening. If there is widespread agreement that Web 2.0 tools can have a tremendous upside for businesses, the reality is that, inside many companies, reactions to online social networking have been fixated on the downside.

This should not be surprising. Social networking is essentially a horizontal dynamic. The human need to connect socially is powerful, irrepressible and indispensable for getting things done. Markets, in like manner, operate according to inexorable laws that connect sellers and buyers. Market dynamics relentlessly seek to maximize efficiency to create surplus value. Markets work best when they are free, open, unfettered, unencumbered by monopolies, oligopolies, conspiracies and obnoxious practices. The classic design of corporate bureaucracies, by contrast, is based on the opposite dynamic. Traditionally, the social architecture of corporations has been vertical and closed. Corporate cultures are shaped by rigid hierarchies and ascriptive values of position, title and rank. Corporations are managed as top-down organizations that wield tremendous powers of compensatory coercion over their employees. Office environments are not cocktail parties; nor are they Greenwich Village streetscapes.

This excerpt is from chapter 14 of "Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom: How Online Social Networking Will Transform Your Life, Work and World," by Matthew Fraser and Soumitra Dutta.

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  • Cover Sheet and Terms.pdf
  • Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom Excerpt.pdf
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Matthew Fraser, PhD, is a Senior Research Fellow at INSEAD, adjunct professor at the American University of Paris, and lecturer at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. He completed graduate studies at the London School of Economics, Oxford University (Nuffield College), Université de Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, where he earned a doctorate in political science. He is the author of several books, including Weapons of Mass Distraction: Soft Power and American Empire (St. Martin’s, 2005). A recognized media industries expert with long experience as an academic and journalist, he was Editor–in–Chief of Canada’s national daily newspaper, National Post, and co-hosted a prime-time national television show, “Inside Media,” on Canada’s public all-news network, CBC Newsworld.

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