[cp] Re:Activist community, shadow organisations
- "More" data? I had absolutely NO data. I wasn't making a data-based
decision; I was making a prediction. My point is that any time the
formal organization moves to incorporate or involve elements of the
informal organization -- for good or bad or whether properly or
improperly motivated -- that incorporation/involvement is the very
essence of co-optation which, according to my dictionary, has the
1a to choose or elect as a member
1b to appoint as a colleague or assistant
2a to take into a group (i.e., absorb or assimilate)
2b to take over
I had 2a mainly in mind when I made my remarks although the others
apply even if less strictly.
--- In com-prac@y..., drjmpirone@m... wrote:
> Not sure that atomic fire instance referred to was "co-optatiion".
> not have to have more data prior to that judgment?
> Joseph----- Original Message -----
> From: "fwnickols" <nickols@a...>
> To: <com-prac@y...>
> Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2002 5:57 PM
> Subject: [cp] Re:Activist community, shadow organisations
> > John D. Smith asks if my post about the subject line above
> > isn't "implying that the formal organization can't help but co-opt
> > communities of practice and is somehow clueless about the inquiry
> > that goes on in a community?
> > Not at all. The formal organization can opt for a heavy-handed
> > approach or a lighter touch. My experience is that, more often
> > not, the formal organization will attempt to co-opt and exploit
> > informal organizations that spring up. CoPs were hidden from view
> > until spotted and reported upon. That, as we all know, has
> > a very large effort to nourish, launch and, yes, exploit, CoPs.
> > that beneficial or destructive? I don't know. I guess we'll all
> > have to wait and see.
> > John goes on to make his point, namely, "that the "formal
> > organization" is not so inert and brain dead that it doesn't
> > isn't susceptible to being influenced by the informal
> > represented by its communities of practice.
> > I never said it wasn't. But, being blissfully ignorant of the
> > situation involving the nuclear physicists, I'll wager that the
> > formal organization will take steps to make that informal
> > organization a part of the formal organization and that, after
> > is the essence of co-optation.
> > Regards,
> > Fred Nickols
> > nickols@a...
> > http://home.att.net/~nickols/articles.htm
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- Thanks to John and Fred for raising the issue of defining terms. On
the one hand, we face the impracticality of glossing every statement
with the intended connotations. On the other, in wrestling with the
meaning of these terms, we may be able to clarify our thinking.
Fred Nickols wrote:
> ........I'll wager that theI'd like to suggest that the motivation for this type of action is
> formal organization will take steps to make that informal
> organization a part of the formal organization and that, after
> all,is the essence of co-optation.
reflected in a problem of terminology we've recently touched on.
Namely the idea that "formal organization" = "legitimate
organization". It seems to me that countering this perception is a
key to cultivating CoP's. If a company holds this position, it will
want to legitimize communities by bringing them into the formal
organization. This would inevitably co-opt CoP's (in the sense of
neutralizing/marginalizing through assimilation).
If a company can recognize the legitimacy of informal communities,
then it may create the conditions necessary for them to flourish.
I'd like to suggest that "adopt" may be a useful term here, in the
1. To take into one's family through legal means and raise as one's
2a. To take and follow (a course of action, for example) by choice or
assent: adopt a new technique. b. To take up and make one's own:
adopt a new idea.
I could wade a bit farther into the semantic waters here, and try to
unpack terms like "formal", "legitimate" and "family", but I'd rather
turn back. Instead I'd like to pose a question: How do we help
organizations recognize the legitimacy of CoP's?
I have my own answers, but they're ill-formed, and I've said enough
already. I'd prefer to hear yours.