Sep 13 2016

Community – organization difference

Published by at 10:26 pm under Communities of practice,SNA,talks

Since I did a talk at CHIFOO last May, I continue to think about situations where a community and an organization coincide or are closely intertwined.  In comparison with how community and organization interact in other circumstances, it’s the churches and meditation groups depicted on the right that highlight the differences between the two regimes most clearly.  These different settings have been on my mind for years.


But I think that the coexistence of organizational and community regimes is the norm, even though the contrast is clearer is some circumstances more than others.  Here’s a table that’s evolving to describe how I think of the difference between the two regimes:

What lies beneath

Civic or economic system

Social fabric

How roles are defined

Contracted / appointed

Negotiated / evolved / reputed

Group membrane

Coase’s Theorem

Legitimate peripheral participation

Kind of entity

A legal person

A tradition
How mapped 
Hierarchical organization chart
Stories, texts, places, events
Value created
Adding to a value chain,
delivering a product
Community, Practice, Domain
Communication emphasis
Go through channels

What seems tricky to me about thinking of these two in comparison to each other is that we constantly switch from one regime to the other — usually without thought or awareness.

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