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Research works produced by Max Boisot | Universitat Ramon Llull, Barcelona (URL) and other places

Publications (58).Connectivity, Extremes, and Adaptation: A Power-Law Perspective of Organizational EffectivenessArticleFull-text availableMay 2011 .Journal of Management Inquiry . Max Boisot. Bill Mckelvey.Managers are often required to respond in adaptive ways to the threats and opportunities presented by rare, extreme outcomes. Given these, management scholars frequently face a stark choice: say something useful to practitioners using narratives in which dramatic effects are often achieved at the expense of academic rigor or maintain the latter by sacrificing practitioner relevance. Recent developments in complexity science offer a new perspective. The article distinguishes between the simplicities achieved by reductionism (equilibrium, law-like equations, linearity, and predictability) and the complexity triggered by initiating “butterfly events”—nonlinearity, scale-free causes, and power laws (PLs). Schema formation and adaptation within Gaussian and PL ontologies are framed in terms of Ashby’s law of requisite variety. Variety perceived to be requisite is sensitive to the type of ontological assumptions that are made. PL approaches to management inquiry focusing on rank/frequency distributions, fractal structures, and scale-free dynamics are outlined.Download full-text Cite Working the SystemArticleApr 2011 .International Studies of Management and Organization . Max Boisot. John Child. Gordon Redding.Globalization-assisted by new information and communication technologies (ICTs)-is believed to facilitate convergence to a market order. We examine this belief by distinguishing between cultures and institutions. The former generate semantic fields within which the latter emerge and with which they interact. We draw on a conceptual framework, the Information-Space (I-Space), to describe semantic fields, to locate institutions within these fields, and to yield distinct sectors and organizational types. We also look at how ICTs modify semantic fields as well as the distribution of institutions interacting within them. Then, focusing on capital sourcing, we apply our analysis to China's evolving business systems. We conclude by exploring the theoretical and policy implications of our findings.Cite Request full-text Working the System: Toward a Theory of Cultural and Institutional CompetenceArticleFull-text availableApr 2011 .International Studies of Management and Organization . Max Boisot. John Child. Gordon Redding.Globalization—assisted by new information and communication technologies (ICTs)—is believed to facilitate convergence to a market order. We examine this belief by distinguishing between cultures and institutions. The former generate semantic fields within which the latter emerge and with which they interact. We draw on a conceptual framework, the Information-Space (I-Space), to describe semantic fields, to locate institutions within these fields, and to yield distinct sectors and organizational types. We also look at how ICTs modify semantic fields as well as the distribution of institutions interacting within them. Then, focusing on capital sourcing, we apply our analysis to China's evolving business systems. We conclude by exploring the theoretical and policy implications of our findings.Download full-text Cite Complexity and organization–environment relations: Revisiting Ashby's law of requisite varietyChapterFull-text availableJan 2011 . M. Boisot. Bill Mckelvey.Download full-text Cite Integrating Modernist and Postmodernist Perspectives on Organizations: A Complexity Science BridgeArticleJul 2010 .The Academy of Management Review . Max Boisot. Bill Mckelvey.Cite Request full-text Entrepreneurship in Russia and China: The Impact of Formal Institutional VoidsArticleApr 2010 .Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice . Sheila M. Puffer. Daniel Mccarthy. Max H. Boisot.Transition economies are often characterized by underdeveloped formal institutions, often resulting in an unstable environment and creating a void usually filled by informal ones. Entrepreneurs in transition environments thus face more uncertainty and risk than those in more developed economies. This article examines the relationship of institutions and entrepreneurship in Russia and China in the context of institutional theory by analyzing private property as a formal institution, as well as trust and blat/guanxi as informal institutions. This article thus contributes to the literature on entrepreneurship and institutional theory by focusing on these topics in transition economies, and by emphasizing how their relationship differs from that in developed economies. We conclude that full convergence toward entrepreneurs' reliance on formal institutions may not readily occur in countries like Russia and China due to the embeddedness of informal institutions. Instead, such countries and their entrepreneurs may develop unique balances between informal and formal institutions that better fit their circumstances. Implications for the theory and practice of entrepreneurship in such environments are also offered.Cite Request full-text Complexity Science: A Bridge between Modernist and Postmodernist Perspectives on Organizations?ArticleFull-text availableJan 2009 .The Academy of Management Review . Max Boisot. Bill Mckelvey.Competition between modernism and postmodernism has not been fruitful, and management researchers are divided in their preference, thereby undermining the legitimacy of truth claims in the field as a whole. Drawing on Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety, on complexity science, and in particular on power-law-distributed phenomena, we show how the order-seeking regime of the modernists and the richness-seeking regime of the postmodernists draw on different ontological assumptions that can be integrated within a single overarching framework.Download full-text Cite Redefining strategic foresight: 'Fast' and 'far' sight via complexity scienceArticleJan 2009 . Bill Mckelvey. M. Boisot.Cite Request full-text Heedful Interrelating in three modes: Reliability versus Performance in French Fighter Pilot SquadronsArticleJan 2009 . Max BOISOT. Valerie Merindol. Evelyne Rouby.[...] . David W. Versailles.Cite Request full-text Which Way through the Open Door? Reflections on the Internationalization of Chinese FirmsArticleOct 2008 .Management and Organization Review . Max H. Boisot. Marshall Meyer.Received internationalization theory argues that firms occupy domestic space before going abroad; in other words, large, oligopolistic firms are most likely to internationalize. The experience of China, whose economy is fragmented and whose firms are small by global standards, suggests otherwise. We construct a model of small firm internationalization driven by the relative transaction costs of crossing domestic (in the case of China, provincial) and international borders. When the costs of crossing domestic borders exceed the costs of crossing international borders, firms will internationalize at a relatively early stage of development. In the case of China, local protectionism and inefficient domestic logistics increase the costs of doing business domestically; moreover, protection of property rights in the West and the advantages afforded Chinese owned firms reconstituted as foreign entities operating in China decrease the costs of going out. We coin the term 'institutional arbitrage' to capture Chinese firms pursuit of efficient institutions outside of China. We argue that strategic exit from the home country rather than strategic entry into foreign markets may explain the internationalization of many Chinese firms.Cite Request full-text Explorations in Information Space: Knowledge, Actors, and FirmsArticleJan 2008 . M.H. Boisot. I.C. MacMillan. K.S. Han.Humankind has always lived in a knowledge society. Yet, although we have been discussing the problem of valid knowledge since Plato and probably before, it was only in the second half of the 20th century that such knowledge came to be seen as an economic resource in its own right rather than as a support for the exploitation of other, more physical economic resources such as land, labour power, energy, etc. In recent years, a new specialization, knowledge management, has evolved to address some of the issues associated with the production and distribution of knowledge. It builds on the idea that organizations do not make good use of their knowledge resources and waste much of these. Knowledge management, however, still lacks a founding theory focused on the nature of knowledge and knowledge flows. The problem is that we cannot have a credible theory of how to manage knowledge in the firm without first developing a knowledge-based theory of the firm. The purpose of this book is to provide some theoretical perspective on the nature of organizationally relevant knowledge and to indicate the kind of research that might generate empirically testable hypotheses and further the development of a knowledge-based theory of the firm. Our theorizing builds on a conceptual framework-the Information-Space or I-Space-by means of which we explore how knowledge first emerges, and then gets articulated, diffused, and absorbed by a population of agents. © Max H. Boisot, Ian C. MacMillan, and Kyeong Seok Han 2007. All rights reserved.Cite Request full-text Codification, Abstraction, and Firm Differences: A Cognitive Information‐based PerspectiveChapterOct 2007 . Max H. Boisot. Ian C MacMillan. Kyeong Han.Cite Request full-text Data, Information, and Knowledge: Have We Got It Right?ChapterOct 2007 . Max H. Boisot. Ian C MacMillan. Kyeong Han.Cite Request full-text Moving to the Edge of Chaos: Bureaucracy, IT, and the Challenge of ComplexityChapterOct 2007 . Max H. Boisot. Ian C MacMillan. Kyeong Han.Cite Request full-text ConclusionChapterOct 2007 . Max H. Boisot. Ian C MacMillan. Kyeong Han.Cite Request full-text Organizational versus Market Knowledge: From Concrete Embodiment to Abstract RepresentationChapterOct 2007 . Max H. Boisot. Ian C MacMillan. Kyeong Han.Cite Request full-text Extreme events, power laws, and adaptation: towards an econophysics of organizationArticleFull-text availableAug 2007 .Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings . Max Boisot. Bill Mckelvey.The article discusses the efforts of organizational academics to interpret extreme and rare managerial events in terms of averages and variances. Ross Ashby's "Law of Requisite Variety" is mentioned for suggesting that a system's ability to adapt must be equal to the range of situations and threats that it may encounter. The stable and disconnected world reflected in the Gaussian model is compared to the interdependent world presented by Pareto distributions with respect to entrepreneurial ventures. The power laws of Carl Gauss and Vilfredo Pareto are both subject to the same causal dynamic at multiple levels.Download full-text Cite Property Rights and Information Flows: A Simulation ApproachArticleFull-text availableJan 2007 .Journal of Evolutionary Economics . Max H. Boisot. Ian C MacMillan. Kyeong Han.With the growth of the information economy, the proportion of knowledge-intensive goods to total goods is constantly increasing. Lessig (The future of ideas: the fate of the commons in a connected world. Vintage, New York 2001) has argued that IPRs have now become too favourable to existing producers and that their ‘winner-take-all’ characteristics are constraining the creators of tomorrow. In this paper we look at how variations in IPRs regimes might affect the creation and social cost of new knowledge in economic systems. Drawing on a conceptual framework, the Information Space or I-Space to explore how the uncontrollable diffusibility of knowledge relates to its degree of structure, we deploy an agent-based modelling approach to explore the issue of IPRs. We take the ability to control the diffusibility of knowledge as a proxy measure for an ability to establish property rights in such knowledge. Second, we take the rate of obsolescence of knowledge as a proxy measure for the degree of turbulence induced by different regimes of technical change. Then we simulate the quantity and cost to society of new knowledge under different property right regimes.Download full-text Cite China and the new economy: A case of convergence?ArticleJan 2007 . M. Boisot. John Child.Cite Request full-text Source The spatial dimension of knowledge flows: A simulation approachArticleJan 2007 .Cambridge Journal of Regions Economy and Society . Agustí Canals. Max Boisot. Ian C MacMillan.Drawing on a conceptual framework, the Information Space or I-Space, and using agent-based simulation, our paper offers a theoretical exploration of the spatial dimensions of knowledge management. By modelling two well-known cases of high-tech industrial clusters, Silicon Valley and Boston Route 128, we look at the interrelationship between knowledge management strategies adopted by firms and the latter's choice of spatial location, as well as how it is affected by the evolution of information and communication technologies (ICTs). We find that knowledge structuring and spatial agglomeration co-evolve and that such co-evolution is significantly altered by the development of ICTs.Cite Request full-text Source Moving to the edge of chaos: Bureaucracy, IT and the challenge of complexityArticleDec 2006 .Journal of Information Technology . Max Boisot.Bureaucracies in the Weberian mould, whether of the state or corporate type, are rational-legal structures organized to deliver order, stability and predictability. Early developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs) appeared set to deliver such an outcome. Yet the new economy turns out to be more ‘distributed’ than had originally been expected. What is the nature of the challenge that this poses for bureaucracies? To address this question, the paper first presents a conceptual framework, the Information-Space or I-Space, which allows us to explore the relationship between how knowledge is structured and how it flows within and between populations of agents. The paper then examines what cultural and institutional challenges the new ICTs pose for both state and corporate bureaucracies, confronted as they are with the complexities of an increasingly distributed social order.Journal of Information Technology (2006) 21, 239–248. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jit.2000079Cite Request full-text Are There Any Competencies Out There?: Identifying and Using Technical CompetenciesChapterMay 2006 . DOROTHY GRIFFITHS. MAX BOISOT.Cite Request full-text Source Organizational versus Market Knowledge: From Concrete Embodiment to Abstract RepresentationArticleFeb 2006 .Journal of Bioeconomics . Max Boisot. Yan Li.Synopsis In contrast to the neoclassical economic presumption in favor of markets, we argue that organizations, not markets should be taken as our default assumption. We do so on information processing grounds. We distinguish between Zen and market Knowledge. The first is embodied and hard to articulate and the second abstract-symbolic. In human evolution, the first type of knowledge came first, and, on any pragmatic definition of knowledge, it still incorporates most of what we mean by the term. We take codification and abstraction as the two data processing activities that lead to the articulation of knowledge into an abstract-symbolic form. We develop a conceptual framework, the Information-Space (I-Space) to show how far the articulation of knowledge leads to its being shared. Whereas an unlimited sharing of information and knowledge leads to market-oriented outcomes, a more limited sharing leads to organizational outcomes. A market-oriented economics has tended to look to physics for its models; the field of organization theory has tended to look to biology. A more organization-oriented economics would thus look more to biology for its models.Cite Request full-text National security as a socio/computational processArticleFull-text availableJan 2006 . M. Boisot. Bill Mckelvey.Download full-text Cite Speeding up strategic foresight in a dangerous and complex world: A complexity approachArticleFull-text availableJan 2006 . M. Boisot. Bill Mckelvey.Download full-text Cite Evolution of knowledge management strategies in organizational populations: a simulation modelArticleJun 2005 . Agustí Canals. Max Boisot. Ian C MacMillan.Cite Request full-text Source Codification, Abstraction, and Firm Differences: A Cognitive Information-based PerspectiveArticleFeb 2005 .Journal of Bioeconomics . Max Boisot. Yan Li.Synopsis The resource-based view shares with population ecology, organizational systematics, organizational cladistics, and institutional theory a concern with why firms differ and with what keeps them different. These two questions only have meaning if – as has been the case in the eoclassical theory of the firm – similarities between firms are taken as the default assumption. This paper distinguishes between ontological heterogeneity – differences in the world – and epistemic heterogeneity – differences in the way that the world is construed. Focusing on the latter, it puts forward an argument for taking epistemic heterogeneity between firms as the default assumption. It starts with a general analysis of how living systems make sense of the world. It then goes on to identify the cognitive activities of codification and abstraction as key sources of epistemic heterogeneity. The findings are applied to those systems called firms where a dominant logic allows epistemic heterogeneity to persist. In some case this leads to competitive advantage, in others to a debilitating inertia. The implications for a knowledge-based theory of the firm are briefly explored.Cite Request full-text Knowledge management strategies and spatial structure of geographic industrial clusters: a simulation approachArticleFeb 2005 . Agustí Canals. Max Boisot. Ian C MacMillan.Cite Request full-text Simulating I-Space (SIS): An Agent-based Approach to Modeling Knowledge FlowsArticleFull-text availableFeb 2005 . Max Boisot. Ian C MacMillan.Knowledge management often generates theories that are too general or abstract to be easily testable. In some cases, simulation modeling can help. In this paper we develop an agent-based simulation model derived from a conceptual framework, the Information Space or I-Space and use it to explore the differences between a neoclassical and a Schumpeterian information environment. After introducing the knowledge management issues involved, we first briefly present the conceptual framework. This is followed by a presentation of the agent-based model and a development of a number of hypotheses designed to help validate the model. We then present a number of model runs designed to test these hypotheses in a preliminary way. We find broad support for the hypotheses and conclude that the model exhibits enough consistency to warrant further development. 3 Simulating I-Space (SIS) Boisot, Canals & MacMillanDownload full-text Cite Options complexes: Going beyond real optionsArticleJan 2005 . Rita G. McGrath. Max Boisot.Cite Request full-text 1 Sim-I-Space: An Agent-Based Modelling Approach To Knowledge Management ProcessesChapterFull-text availableJan 2005 . Max Boisot. Ian C MacMillan. Kyeong Han.[...] . Si Hyung Eun.In the chapter we offer a verbal description of Sim-I-Space, an agentbased model that operationalises key features of a conceptual framework: the Information-Space (I-Space). The I-Space relates the speed and extent of information flows between agents to how far their messages have been structured through acts of codification and abstraction. The more structured a message, the faster and more extensively it diffuses to other agents—intentionally or not. Following a brief introduction, the paper divides into two sections. Section 2 describes the models architecture, the agents, the nature of the knowledge assets that they create, articulate, and trade in, and the types of the interactions—trading, licensing, joint-venturing, merging and acquiring—that agents can engage in. Section 3 presents the main components of Sim-I-Space, namely, agent characteristics, agent knowledge, and agent interaction. Two appendices—A and B—describe the model variables and provide a more detailed model specification.Download full-text Cite Crossing Epistemological Boundaries: Managerial and Entrepreneurial Approaches to Knowledge ManagementArticleDec 2004 .Long Range Planning . Max H. Boisot. Ian C MacMillan.It is possible to identify two distinct yet complementary epistemological paths to knowledge development. The first one is holistic and field dependent, and builds on the concept of plausibility, and we associate this path with an entrepreneurial mindset. The second is object-oriented and builds on the concept of probability; this path can be associated with the managerial mindset. We believe that both managerial and knowledge management practices have emphasized the second path at the expense of the first. To restore the balance, knowledge management needs to develop processes and tools e associated with scenarios and real options e that will allow it to operate credibly in possible and plausible worlds, so as to extract value from them. We propose a systems framework for thinking through the nature of such tools.Cite Request full-text Crossing Epistemological Boundaries: Managerial and Entrepreneurial Approaches to Knowledge ManagementArticleOct 2004 . Max Boisot. Ian C MacMillan.It is possible to identify two distinct yet complementary epistemological paths to knowledge development. The first one is holistic and field dependent, and builds on the concept of plausibility, and we associate this path with an entrepreneurial mindset. The second is object-oriented and builds on the concept of probability; this path can be associated with the managerial mindset. We believe that both managerial and knowledge management practices have emphasized the second path at the expense of the first. To restore the balance, knowledge management needs to develop processes and tools – associated with scenarios and real options – that will allow it to operate credibly in possible and plausible worlds, so as to extract value from them. We propose a systems framework for thinking through the nature of such tools.Cite Request full-text Exploring the information space: A strategic perspective on information systemsArticleMay 2004 . Max Boisot.ABSTRACT Thinking on information systems has tended to conflate data, information and knowledge. Intelligent agents convert data into information and thence into knowledge,through a two-step filtering process that is guided by the possession of prior knowledge. Agents, however, have finite brains and intelligence, and often encounter more data and information than they can process or store. To deal with the problem of overload, they have recourse to external processing and storage devices - ie, artefacts or 'external scaffolding' of various kinds - to overcome this problem. Networks of such artefacts, in effect, make up embryonic information systems that have the agent at their centre. Due to the ever-increasing technical change, the division of labour is constantly shifting, both between the external scaffolding and the agent using it or within the agent itself, between embodied, narrative, and abstract forms of knowledge. What determines,this shift? In the paper we show,that the way in which information is structured affects how it flows within aCite Request full-text Data, Information, and Knowledge: Have We Got It Right?ArticleFull-text availableFeb 2004 .Journal of Evolutionary Economics . Max Boisot. Agustí Canals.Economists make the unarticulated assumption that information is something that stands apart from and is independent of the processor of information and its internal characteristics. We argue that they need to revisit the distinctions they have drawn between data, information, and knowledge. Some associate information with data, and others associate information with knowledge. But since none of them readily conflates data with knowledge, this suggests too loose a conceptualisation of the term ‘information’. We argue that the difference between data, information, and knowledge is in fact crucial. Information theory and the physics of information provide us with useful insights with which to build an economics of information appropriate to the needs of the emerging information economy. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg 2004Download full-text Cite Data, information and knowledge: have we got it right?ArticleFeb 2004 . Max Boisot. Agustí Canals.Cite Request full-text Evolution of knowledge management strategies in organizational populations: A simulation modelArticleFull-text availableJan 2004 . Agustí Canals. Max Boisot. Ian C MacMillan.Knowledge flows among organizations play a key role in the development of regions, industries, and geographical clusters. In this paper we develop an evolutionary agent-based simulation model derived from a knowledge-based theoretical framework, the I-Space, and use it to explore the effect of knowledge management strategies in the co-evolution of a group of knowledge-based organizations located in a given geographical area. After introducing the conceptual issues involved, we describe the main features of the agent- based model. This is followed by the presentation of the results of different runs of the simulation model. From the later analysis, we derive a set of hypotheses on the influence of knowledge management strategies and the degree of development of information and communication technologies on the evolution of organizational populations. We conclude assessing the adequacy of simulation for such a kind of problems and suggesting some targets for further research.Download full-text Cite To Own or to Possess? Competence and the Challenge of AppropriabilityChapterMar 2003 . Max Boisot. Dorothy Griffiths.Supporting knowledge management with information technology is widely characterized as a technical challenge - one of devising an information system in which only those people entitled to use a given piece of knowledge can gain access to it, and then making it as easy as possible for those people to do so. This chapter argues that the changing nature of the employment relationship poses a real challenge in getting employees to freely contribute their knowledge in the first place. When organizational competence is based on well articulated knowledge that is well diffused within a company, it may become difficult for the firm to appropriate such knowledge. In both cases, extracting full economic profits from knowledge potentially on offer becomes problematic for a firm. This dilemma is called the paradox of value. This chapter presents a fundamental conceptual framework known as the Information Space or I-Space for the examination of information flows among agents within a firm, and discusses how recent developments in information technology are likely to exacerbate the paradox of value.Cite Request full-text Modeling knowledge-based economic processes: A simulation approachArticleJan 2003 . Max Boisot. Av Tibidabo.Knowledge management often generates theories that are too general or abstract to be easily testable. In some cases, simulation modeling can help. In this paper we develop an agent based simulation model derived from a conceptual framework, the Information Space or I-Space and use it to explore the differences between a neoclassical and a Schumpeterian information environment. After introducing the knowledge management issues involved, we first briefly present the conceptual framework. This is followed by a presentation of the agent-based model and a development of four hypotheses designed to help validate the model. We then present a number of model runs designed to test these four hypotheses. We find relative support for the hypotheses and conclude that the model exhibits enough consistency to warrant further development.Cite Request full-text Source Explorations in Information Space: Knowledge, Agents, and OrganizationBookJan 2001 . Max H. Boisot. Ian C MacMillan. Kyeong Han.With the rise of the knowledge economy, the knowledge content of goods and services is going up just as their material content is declining. Economic value is increasingly seen to reside in the former - that is, in intangible assets - rather than in the latter. Yet we keep wanting to turn knowledge back into something tangible, something with definite boundaries which can be measured, manipulated, appropriated, and traded. In short, we want to reify knowledge. Scholars have been debating the nature of knowledge since the time of Plato. Many new insights have been gained from these debates, but little theoretical consensus has been achieved. Through six thematically linked chapters, the book articulates the theoretical approach to the production and distribution of knowledge that underpins Max Boisot's conceptual framework, the Information Space or I-Space. In this way the book looks to provide theoretical and practical underpinnings to Boisot's book Knowledge Assets (OUP, 1998). Following an introductory chapter, how knowledge relates to data and information is first examined in chapter 1, and how different economic actors - entrepreneurs, managers, etc - use knowledge as a basis for action is explored in chapter 2. Chapter 3 looks at how the heterogeneity of economic actors arises naturally from their respective data processing strategies in spite of any similarities in the data that they might share. Chapter 4 argues, contra much transaction-based economics, that an organizational order must have preceded a market order, something that should be reflected in any knowledge-based theory of the firm. Chapter 5 discusses the cultural and institutional significance of different kinds of knowledge flows. Finally, chapter 6 presents an agent-based simulation model, SimISpace, that illustrates how the I-Space might be applied to concrete problems such those of intellectual property rights. A concluding chapter proposes a research agenda based on the theorizing developed in the book. The approach the book sets out is used by a whole range of organizations to issues of knowledge management, policy, economics, and organizational and cultural change. Available in OSO: http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/oso/public/content/management/0199250871/toc.html Contributors to this volume - Max H. Boisot Agusti Canals Kyeong Seok Han Yan Li Ian. C. MacMillanCite Request full-text Shall I Compare Thee to ... an Organizaiton?ArticleDec 2000 .Emergence . Max Boisot. Jack Cohen.Cite Request full-text Is There a Complexity Beyond the Reach of Strategy?ArticleApr 2000 .Emergence . Max Boisot.Cite Request full-text Are There Any Competencies Out There? Identifying and Using Technical CompetenciesChapterApr 2000 . Dorothy Griffiths. MAX BOISOT.Cite Request full-text Value drivers of e-commerce business modelsArticleFull-text availableMar 2000 . Raphael Amit. Christoph Zott. Howard E. Aldrich.[...] . George Yip.and from participants at a faculty seminar at the Wharton School. We are particularly grateful to the Special Issue editors and two anonymous referees for their most helpful and constructive suggestions and comments.Download full-text Cite The I-Space: A framework for analyzing the evolution of social computingArticleSep 1999 .Technovation . Max Boisot. Benita Cox.Advances in the design of computer architectures and networks have led to new ways of representing, creating, manipulating and distributing knowledge. This paper takes a sociotechnical view of computing and considers the impact of computer architectures which are based on connectionist principles and the growth in computer networks on the representation of the learning process and strategies for dealing with complexity. It calls for a new economic view of knowledge and intellectual property rights more appropriate for the analysis of information flows in networks. Finally, the Information Space (I-Space) is presented as a framework for the analysis and evaluation of information flows.Cite Request full-text Organizations as Adaptive Systems in Complex Environments: The Case of ChinaArticleJun 1999 .Organization Science . Max Boisot. John Child.Complex organizations exhibit surprising, nonlinear behavior. Although organization scientists have studied complex organizations for many years, a developing set of conceptual and computational tools makes possible new approaches to modeling nonlinear ...Cite Request full-text Possession is nine tenths of the law: managing a firm's knowledge base in a regime of weak appropriabilityArticleJan 1999 .International Journal of Technology Management . Max Boisot. Dorothy Griffiths.Much of the work currently going on in the field of knowledge management takes the capture, storage and dissemination within the firm of useful employee knowledge as its key focus. Knowledge management thus appears primarily as a technical challenge devising a suitable information system. Part of this challenge consists of ensuring that only those entitled to use the knowledge effectively gain access to it. With diffusion becoming ever less controllable, this challenge is becoming rather more complex. Traditionally, it consisted of firms seeking to prevent those outside the firm gaining access to their knowledge. We argue in this paper that a bigger challenge may now be to get employees to contribute their knowledge in the first place and that the capture of knowledge involves more than simply making it easier for employees to articulate their idiosyncratic experiences and know how. It also involves creating an incentive structure making it worth their while to do so. In a "post Marxist" world, knowledge workers are once more becoming the owners of the means of production.Cite Request full-text Strategies for managing knowledge assets: A tale of two companiesArticleAug 1998 .Technovation . Dorothy Griffiths. Max Boisot. Veronica Mole.Knowledge assets and their management currently constitute both a major source of competitive advantage for firms and a major problem. In the global environment it is increasingly recognised that the way in which firms mobilise and utilise their knowledge assets may constitute the significant difference between them. Yet, at the same time, the ways in which firms can access and manage their knowledge assets is also acknowledged to be a major difficulty, so firms find themselves in the position where their most critical resource is, at the same time, their most difficult challenge to manage. Drawing on the Prahalad and Hamel definition of core competence, we suggest that one of the reasons why firms have experienced difficulties in identifying knowledge based competences is the tacit nature of these competences. The paper describes a model developed by one of the authors (Boisot) which we believe might help firms to identify and manage their competences. It then explores the application of the model in the two companies: BP Exploration and Courtaulds. The conclusion is, first that the model provided a helpful framework for both companies to explore their knowledge assets, and second, that it generated new insights in both organisations.Cite Request full-text From Fiefs to Clans and Network Capitalism: Explaining China's Emerging Economic OrderArticleDec 1996 .Administrative Science Quarterly . Max Boisot. John Child.China's rapid economic development is being accomplished through a system of industrial governance and transaction that differs from Western experience. Here, we identify the broad institutional nature of this distinctiveness within a framework of information codification and diffusion. The emergent features of China's economic order are analyzed with reference to the business system developing there, in particular, the nature of market arrangements, the form of capitalism, and the role of government within that system. The limited extent of codification of information in China and its communal property rights and organization of economic transactions suggest that decentralization from the former state-command system is giving rise to a distinctive institutional form--network capitalism.Cite Request full-text Institutionalizing the Labour Theory of Value: Some Obstacles to the Reform of State-owned Enterprises in China and VietnamArticleNov 1996 .Organization Studies . Max H. Boisot.The changes experienced by the managers in socialist and post-socialist state-owned enterprises can be likened to what Kuhn (1962) has termed a 'paradigm shift', a transition between two systems that are incommensurable. Yet, as Kuhn himself has pointed out, individuals do not easily give up on the way that they see the world. A new paradigm often only really takes root when the advocates of an earlier paradigm die off. This paper examines the paradigmatic role played by the labour theory of value in accounting for the behaviour of state-owned enterprise managers in China and Vietnam. It examines specific managerial and institutional practices derivable from the theory and assesses the implications of a paradigm approach to the challenge of system reforms in both countries for institutional and structural contingency theories.Cite Request full-text Spinning a good yarn: The identification of core competencies at CourtauldsArticleMay 1996 .International Journal of Technology Management . Max Boisot. Terry Lemmon. Dorothy Griffiths. Veronica Mole.For the third time in Courtauld's long history, the firm may have stumbled on to a new cellulosic fibre with considerable commercial potential. In this, as in the preceding cases, the basic chemistry that led to the discovery of the fibre was carried out outside the firm. Also, as in the preceding cases, the firm took what was a laboratory product and developed it to the point where it could be exploited commercially. It was during this scaling up process that Courtaulds came to understand the new fibre's many potential applications. This paper, building on academic research currently in progress at Courtaulds, explores the hypothesis that the firm has a core competence in chemical engineering, the process of moving a new product from the laboratory bench into different markets. The competence involves managing a paradox: development has to focus on a series of quite specific and often quite limited product applications while scaling up has to allow for a product's generic potential. In effect what must be done is to fine tune a new fibre's properties in order to adapt them to the requirements of a large number of niches, while simultaneously assessing the likely level of aggregate demand of all possible niche applications taken together before these can be fully known, in order to act pre-emptively in the market. Using a conceptual framework developed by one of the authors, the paper will explore the implications of possessing such a core competence for the management and organization of the firm's existing businesses. It will be argued that one major benefit of correctly identifying technology-based competences is that it gives a legitimate voice to the longer term claims of technology management within the firm, a voice that is often drowned out by the clamour created by short term commercial pressures.Cite Request full-text Is Your Firm a Creative Destroyer? Competitive Learning and Knowledge Flows in the Technological Strategies of FirmsArticleJul 1995 .Research Policy . Max H. Boisot.A firm's technology strategy can be described either as a war of position or a war of movement. The first kind of strategy leads the firm to hoard its technological assets in an attempt to defy the equilibrating action of market forces (neoclassical or N-learning), the second pushes for a selective diffusion of its technological assets that will move it beyond market equilibrium and towards new opportunities (Schumpeterian or S-learning).Using Boisot's (1986) culture space as an analytical tool the paper explores the difference between N- and S-learning and how they each affect a firm's technological prospects.Cite Request full-text Information, Economics, and Evolution: What Scope for a Ménage à trois?ArticleOct 1994 .World Futures . Max Boisot.The second half of the twentieth century will be remembered as the period in which information came to replace energy as the central fact of life in post‐industrial societies. Yet we continue to confront the phenomenon with the conceptual tools of an energy based economy. These take information to be costless and freely available as a support to economic transactions. In the paper information is taken to be the focus of an economic transaction.The second section of the paper traces the energy based approach to economic analysis to a nineteenth century obsession by economists to emulate the success of the physical sciences by borrowing and adapting their concepts. In the third section the need for an economics that can cope with discontinuous and evolutionary change—and hence with information processing as a form of economizing—is discussed and developed. In section four, a distinction is drawn between knowledge, information, and data, the latter being a form of low level energy that has the capacity to act informationally rather than mechanically, and thus to create an “observer.” Evolutionary processes are then hypothesized to involve the gradual substitution of energy acting informationally for energy acting mechanically in physical systems and to do so in ways that are consonant with Maupertuis's principle of least action and that bring about a minimization of entropy production.It is hypothesized that this process can be represented by means of an evolutionary production function with data and physical inputs being respectively treated as factors of production. The characteristics of this production function are compared in section five with those used in more orthodox economic theorizing and some of the advantages of the new production function are discussed in the concluding section. It is argued that the evolutionary production function, by treating data as a factor of production, and hence taking the production of information as an attempt to economize on the processing of data, offers greater generality, explanatory power, and relevance than the energy oriented production functions currently used by economists.Cite Request full-text The Nature of Managerial Work in the Chinese Enterprise Reforms. A Study of Six DirectorsArticleApr 1992 .Organization Studies . Max Boisot. Xing Guo Liang.This paper applies a conceptual framework, developed by Boisot (1986), to an analysis of the behaviour of Chinese enterprise managers. In a replication of Mintzberg's 1973 study of US managers, six Chinese enterprise directors were time studied over a period of six days, and the findings analyzed using the framework. It appears that although Chinese enterprise managers in the sample share many behavioural characteristics with their US counterparts, they do so in an institutional setting that places a different construction on their behaviour. In particular, the analysis suggests that the Chinese firm is not available to them as an extension of their managerial prerogative and, if anything, is institutionally designed to constrain it. In such a setting, opportunistic behaviour expresses a personal survival strategy rather than a quest for personal gain.Cite Request full-text Source Territorial strategies in a competitive world: The emerging challenge to regional authoritiesArticleSep 1990 .European Management Journal . Max Boisot.The advent of the Single Market is increasing the intensity of competition between different regions of Europe at a time when national governments are experiencing a curtailment of their powers to assist them. Regions are not just competing for foreign investment, but with the increased mobility of economic factors, they are striving to hold on to domestic firms that could migrate elsewhere. What we are witnessing in this evolution is a shift in the nature of regional strategy from one which could be described as a game against nature to one that is more appropriately labelled a game against adversaries. Large industrial enterprises have experienced this shift in the late 1960s and early 1970s and, in response, have evolved tools of strategy analysis adapted to the new competitive climate. Regional and local authorities are likely to make the same transition and in so doing will experience profound changes in their dominant value systems and their organizational culture.Cite Request full-text The Iron Law of Fiefs: Bureaucratic Failure and the Problem of Governance in the Chinese Economic ReformsArticleDec 1988 .Administrative Science Quarterly . Max Boisot. John Child.This paper argues that the current markets and hierarchies framework of transaction-cost economics provides too limited a set of transactional options to account adequately for many of the organizational problems encountered in developing economies. Focusing on the codification and diffusion of information, it provides a set of concepts designed to extend the existing framework. Applying these concepts to an analysis of the economic reforms in the People's Republic of China since 1978, the paper identifies a form of bureaucratic failure that lies beyond the markets-hierarchies typology and that high-lights the important role played by culture and level of development in shaping transactional preferences.Cite Request full-text China's institutional architecture: a New Institutional Economics and Organization Theory perspective on the links between local governance and local enterprises in particularArticleFull-text available Bárbara Krug. H. Hendrischke. Max Boisot.[...] . Yao Xianguo Financial.Building on the literature on fiscal federalism, we find that for the majority of Chinese firms the local state matters more than the central state, based on three core elements of China's institutional architecture: local regulatory autonomy, informal enforcement of property rights, and networks between state organizations and entrepreneurs. Three findings deserve attention. First, informal institutions matter. Second, property rights can be protected without a strong central state and formal institutions. Third, at local level property rights protection depends on performance. While in the "West" property rights are independent of usage of assets, local government agencies reward good performance with property rights protection and contractual security. We propose concepts derived from New Institutional Economics and Organization Theory to explain the institutional logic of this situation. Descriptors: institutional change, organisational forms of firms, capabilities, informal sector, diversity and convergence of institutions.Download full-text Cite CounterTerrorism as Neighborhood Watch: A Socio/Computational Approach for Getting Patterns From DotsArticleFull-text available Max Boisot. Bill Mckelvey.Improved security, it has been argued, consists in getting more dots and in the joining them up in a timely manner. In this paper we argue that such an approach rapidly leads to computationally intractable intelligence tasks and does not actually deliver what is needed. We take timely pattern processing to be the main intelligence task—computationally speaking, an even more daunting prospect. After discussing the nature of the problem in the light of Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety, we introduce the concept of Global Neighborhood Watch as a socially distributed pattern processing strategy. We show how the application of filters that privilege certain contexts, vantage points, and time frames, in conjunction with a distributed intelligence process drawing on modern "citizen" technologies can rapidly home in on relevant security threats. We illustrate the process by means of an imaginary case and discuss the policy implications that it raises. A conclusion follows.Download full-text Cite .