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Transnational Network of Research and Service Communities

Proposal for an organizational hybrid

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Paper presented to the Rome Special Futures Conference, September 1973. Also in: Proceedings Rome, Irades, 1974. Also reprinted in: Facilitative Environments for Personal Development. Originally published in: Facilitative Environments for Personal Development (Papers arising out of a postal symposium). Brussels, Mankind 2000, 1975, pp. 111-138. Partially reprinted as: Organizational hybrid: transnational network of research and service communities. Transnational Associations, 29, 1977, 7-8, pp 306-311. (see also Table Part 1 and Part 2)

Approaches to change
Survey of some existing organization forms
Proposed hybrid organizatîon
Characteristics of the organization network
Rise of the Network Role
Some network roles
Economic viability
Organizational questions
Relations with external authority
Style, image and survival
Annex: The Network Dream

Approaches to change

People tend to move or drift through the social system into those groups and organizations which are engaged in the change processes most congenial to them. As individuals develop they may reach stages when a given change process and its organizational support seems unfruitful or unsuited to their desire for self-expression. The individual needs fresh fields to conquer, a new life-style or a new mode of work. The development of the individual implies life-style mobility and organizational and social change. Social change and development requires development of the individual to adapt to new challenges.

The difficulty is that society currently sanctions movement within organizational and career systems but not between them. The individual is therefore forced into one particular mode of self-expression for his whole working life unless he wishes to run the risk of being labelled a grass-hopper or dilettante, or of being viewed as an ignorant outsider (a 'foreigner') in the systems into which he attempts to move.

Within one system an individual can of course develop other modes of self-expression, but only as secondary modes within the constant and overriding primary mode. For example, as an executive in the business system, an individual can move from a high technology corporation to a commercial art corporation; the switch from science to art is contained within the unchanging management framework).

The problem is therefore whether it is possible to provide an organizational setting in which an individual can develop secondary modes of expression and allow any of them to become primary for any desired length of time.

The problem is complicated by the very radical nature of the differences between approaches to change as well as between the corresponding modes of expression of the indiviclual engaged in them. There does not appear to be any systematic listing of change strategies, but the following list is an indication of the variety.

Ironically, the proponents of a particular form of change tend to perceive it as the only viable or significant form (e.g. to a political activist everything of any significance is political). They are unable to detect the manner in which their action is reinforced, counter-balanced, checked, contained or even undermined by the other forms of change.

The solution to the problem noted above is the generation of some new style of organization which provides continuity to the individual in switching from one mode to another. Clearly such an organization cannot be based on the perceptions of a particular discipline or a particular mode of thought - for these are the expression of only one aspect of man's personality. The organization needs to be more 'primitive' than the many specialized bodies which are characteristic of the fragmented nature of developed societies. It must pre-date the division of labour which sanctions and gives rise to such bodies. Only 'organic' organizations, namely communities, in effect contain within themselves the seeds of the many specialized bodies and thus provide a bridge for movement between specialized modes of action. Thus an organizational form is required which can re-absorb many specialized functions. It is not a question of organizational regression but of recovering the necessary generality which can permit new advances to be made.

Before looking at the suggested characteristics of such an organizational form, it is useful to note the wide variety of existing forms. In proposing that the new form be based on a more primitive one, there is no suggestion that some of the more advanced features of existing forms should not be incorporated. Some of these features are in fact a formalization of features and processes present in communities.

Survey of some existing organization forms

A wide selection of organizational forms has been roughly arranged into groups (see Table Part 1 and Part 2). A series of characteristics has been used to differentiate between the forms. The characteristics were selected not so much in order to distinguish clearly between the different forms but rather in order to draw attention to the manner in which each form exemplified each characteristic.

The main characteristics considered of interest in the organizational form to be discussed are as follows:

  1. Research: namely the presence of some activity contributing directly to the advancement of scientific or cultural knowledge.
  2. Application development: namely the development of new techniques with practical consequences for the activity of the organization or the society in which it functions.
  3. Production (for internal use): namely the production of foodstuffs, goods or services within the organization to avoid purchasing them from outside.
  4. Production (for external sale): of foodstuffs, goods or services as a means of ensuring financial independence.
  5. Services (for needy members): namely the provision of subsidized or free social services to members.
  6. Services (for external society): namely the provision of subsidized or free social services to the external society.
  7. Social problem concern.
  8. Direct action (on external society): namely the ability to undertake some programme of direct action (e.g. relief work) away from the organization base.
  9. Science /culture compatibility: namely the absence of rigid barriers between scientific and cultural perspectives.
  10. Residential.
  11. Community: namely a setting in which normal family life processes can take place throughout the complete cycle of generations. Some distorted, partial or single sex environments to which the term can be applied have been scored as (x).
  12. Relatively open: namely not specifically restricted to a small class of people with a particular set of qualifications.
  13. Non-specialist labour (occupational alternatives): namely the ability of members to choose to switch between intellectual, skilled and manual roles within the organization whenever a change of work mode and rhythm is desired and without being stigmatized.
  14. Personal development: namely an expressed concern within the organization for members as maturing humans within a psycho-social ecosystem, rather than as economic units being filled with knowledge in order to fit into predefined social slots.
  15. Retreat function: namely the facility to permit individuals to take the time required to reconsider the basis and context of their actions - to be with themselves in peace and quiet.
  16. Recreation: namely a concern with individual re-creation as an essential psycho-social process within the organization, in the maintenance of its equilibrium.
  17. Security /Isolation: namely the provision- of adequate physical protection or isolation from the short-term consequences of social disruption and violence in the external environment.

These characteristics are of course exemplified in different ways in different organization forms. The table is intended as a guide to working out how different ways of achieving the same characteristic can be combined to produce a hybrid organizational form. It is an exercise in selectively combining organizational features and styles. The scoring for each form against each characteristic is only tentative. It is complicated by the old question of who constitutes the 'members' of an organization and therefore where the boundary between the organization and its environment lies.

A similar exercise could be performed for each of the organizational networks corresponding to each of the forms described in there (e.g. the networks of monasteries, banks, youth hostels, etc.). In which case it would be interesting to note how each of the following characteristics is exemplified for each network:

  1. Independence of centres namely their autonomy within the network.
  2. Facilitation of movement namely the extent to which movement of individuals from centre to centre around the network is facilitated.
  3. Exchange between centres: namely the extent to which centres exchange products, services and information.
  4. Movement to and from network: namely the ability of individuals to spend varying lengths of time in the external social environment before returning to the network.
  5. Organizational experiments: namely the extent to which the network as a whole encourages innovation at different centres to the benefit of the whole.
  6. Organizational variety: namely the ability of the network to tolerate and contain a wide variety of organizational styles and concerns.
  7. Independence of network: namely its ability to act and survive without depending on the external social environment for economic support.

Proposed hybrid organizatîon

The various organizational formulae noted above suggest a spectrum of possibilities and not a definitive classification. It is therefore possible to envisage combinations of characteristics from several formulae to give new hybrid organizational varieties which might prove useful in the presently evolving social context. One such hybrid is examined here.

Consider the possibility of designing a center-cum-community combining the following characteristics:

  1. The life-style change implied by commune or community living as opposed to the current social fragmentation within urban agglomerations destructive of neighbourhood contacts. Note that this need not imply communal housing but does at least imply a planned grouping of dwellings around a community centre by whatever (psychic) distance the dwellings are separated. This aspect has been developed in the commune (West), commune (East), kibbutz and monastery /convent /ashram formulae. Vacation villages emphasizing community living have also developed aspects of this (e.g. Club Mediterranée).

  2. -- The setting to permit intellectual and cultural study, research and explorations in a manner protected from the compromises and obligations characteristic of university research (e.g. teaching load), grant-aided research (e.g. 'relevance' to foundation priorities) and the usual institutional obligations (e.g. administrative duties and unfacilitative working hours). This aspect has been developed in a number of institutes of advanced studies (e.g. at Princeton) and in scholar retreats (e.g. the Villa Serbelloni of the Rockefeller Foundation).

    The scholar retreat aspect in the case of the example given, has been conceived as a setting in which the final stages of books and studies could be completed in peace and quiet. This facility could make the centre formula very attractive.

  3. An emphasis on economic independence, if not self-sufficiency, to permit the necessary measure of self-control. The centre would therefore either produce its own foodstuffs and other necessities or provide in addition or alternatively goods, knowledge or services which can be exchanged in the market economy for the goods or services required. This formula has been developed through the commune (West), the kibbutz, and the monastery /convent/ashram.

  4. The setting in which individuals can, if they so desire, rehabilitate and develop themselves psychologically protected from the usual disruptive influences associated with the pace of modern life. This aspect has been developed through religious retreat (e.g. Taizé), the monastery/convent / ashram, the human potential centre (e.g. Esalen) and in some types of sanatoria and commune (West).

  5. The setting to permit alternation at a self-chosen rhythm between intellectual activity (see 2), goods production (see 3) including physical labour, and psychological rehabilitation (see 4). This alternation of modes is usually impossible in most existing working environments despite its value to both the individual and his organization in terms of improved creativity, productivity and relevance.

  6. Function as a focal point to which or through which funds can be channelled to catalyze and facilitate creative new approaches to the problems of society, the intellectual tools to solve them and the styles of organizations appropriate to such activity. This is the foundation or trust fund aspect which has already been well developed nationally in the West.

  7. A base from which a variety of forms of (multidisciplinary) assistance can be made available to the external social environment (not necessarily with the financial return envisaged under 3). Possibilities include: health, education, community development, care of aged, care of retarded, education of specially gifted, advice, etc. This aspect has been developed through the mission formula, voluntary work camps, and relief agencies. Of special interest perhaps are those bodies offering 24 hour telephone assistance to those facing some personal crisis (e.g. suicide, marital problems, etc.).

  8. The setting within which certain types of education could be provided uninfluenced by the restrictions and obligations of the usual courses leading to examinations. This aspect has been developed through the residential conference formula (or 'institute" in the USA), some university summer courses, and a variety of other educational experiments in unstructured settings.

  9. The setting within which new types of cultural communication could be developed and made available to the external social environment. Possibilities include: experimental theatre, experimental art exhibitions, and other community involvement happenings. This aspect has been developed mostly in -ad hoc efforts in connection with each of these possibilities.

  10. A social environment protected against dilution of the qualities, which it is interested in developing, by the division and disruptive processes characteristic of modern society. This protectionist aspect has been developed in such organizational formulae as: guilds, trade unions, fraternities, professional societies, secret societies, secular and religious closed orders. Current trends towards increasing violence suggest that some form of physical protection for such a centre may also prove appropriate. The monastic and castle formulae are the best known but recently walled suburbs have been constructed in the USA.

  11. A setting which permits the-build up of a "critical mass" of multidisciplinary expertise which, through the interaction of the individuals involved, should lead to an enhancement of open-ended creativity. This aspect has been developed in the think tank and special residential conference formulae.

  12. A setting which encourages more fruitful and participatory forms of recreational experience than is usually associated with conventional commercialized leisure -- particularly structured spectator sports and media based entertainment.

  13. A setting in which experiments in organization can be conducted to perfect means of balancing the psycho-social ecosystem constituted by the many influences brought to interact there. This aspect has to some extent been developed in the commune (West).

Characteristics of the organization network

The-- characteristics of the research and service community noted above concern only the centre itself and not its relationship -- to other similar centres. Of major importance to the significance of any such hybrid formula are the characteristics of -- the network of such centres over and above the characteristics of the individual centres. Consider the following:

  1. The network provides a safety valve via which the tensions, which often build up dangerously within isolated centres, can be released. Whereas factional conflict within a centre can easily lead to break-up, the network provides a large spectrum of centres in which elements of the discontented faction can hope to find a sympathetic response. This aspect has been developed in the personnel relocation policies of wide-spread organizations such as the services (civil, diplomatic, military), large (multinational) corporations, religious orders, etc. Of special significance is that by moving to another centre the individual is not forced out of the supportive network nor is his contribution to il lost. The network functions as a low-key containing device to prevent dissipation of communal energy. It is interesting to note that mobility is seen as a stabilizing process within a proposed community and as a safety valve for personality and intergroup conflicts. Members may 'move around from house to house and from activity to activity '. A mathematical model is being developed to determine the optimum rate of movement of people between groups within a community (1). Inter-community movement is arguably of equal importance.

  2. The network approach permits different organizational formulae, concerns and emphases to be adopted and developed in each centre depending on the personality types which gradually filter towards each of them over time. The centres would therefore each develop a "personality" or style making them complementary rather than similar in every respect. This specialization of function or mode of operation would encourage an exchange of services between the centres. This aspect has been developed in the kibbutz cooperative system (via which kibbutzim exchange goods between one another), the hospital network (whereby patients may be moved through the system according to the treatment required), the research institute network (whereby a scholar will contact or work at a succession of institutes appropriate to the advancement of his research).

  3. The network provides a great variety of educational settings amongst which an individual may choose or to which he may expose himself (if he starts with insufficient information to choose). Movement between these settings is legitimated in this new frame of reference. This aspect has been developed in the youth hostel network formula, in the network of research institutes, in the kibbutz network (which permits visitors and members to move between kibbutzim working at each place), in the seaside club network (Club Mediterrannée members take holidays successively in 43 centres, in 19 countries, each with a different style) and in the hotel chain (for example, Holiday Inn or Hilton in which clients moving from city to city and from country to country are encouraged to book into the appropriate hotel in the chain).

  4. The existence of the network ensures that if any centre fails and breaks up due to internal problems then individuals can be incorporated into other centres. Alternatively, if a centre is in need, then assistance can be provided. This aspect has been developed in the services (civil, military, etc.) and in large (multinational) corporations.

  5. The widespread existence of the network ensures that if any part of it is threatened by external legislation or other pressures, then the key attributes and people may be transferred to more hospitable locations. This aspect had been developed by missionary orders, monastic orders, diplomatic and military services and multinational corporations. A network of this type also has a higher probability of surviving, in part, any social disruption and chaos of the type predicted for the near future.

  6. As a network, no directing centre or unique administration headquarters is necessary. Different centres may take on such a role for specific issues which emerge and for which they have a special expertise - but only for the duration of the crisis in question. Leadership roles are therefore transferred throughout the network. The extent and nature of any such centralization will vary with the issue but the major function will be to suggest strategies and adaptations to the operational style of individual centres rather than to take on any detailed directive or decision-making role. This aspect has been developed by mass movements (civil rights, student) and business systems (in which decision-making is highly decentralized or via specially constituted task forces).

  7. The network constitutes a reservoir of expertise and experience which can be used to facilitate and nurture the creation of new centres. Assistance could be provided, on request, through the early phases of a centre's establishment, where simple errors may jeopardize its future (cf. the failure rate of communes). This incubator or midwife function could ensure the rapid and healthy development of the network. This aspect has been developed in the "advance party" formula used in the extension of the kibbutz network, the network of offices and factories of large corporations, the network of military bases, etc. This approach could also be used to take-over unsuccessful centres external to the network and revivify them.

  8. The network provides a secure setting from which an individual may operate in the external social environment and to which he may return when he so desires. The network is not conceived as self-sufficient and isolated from the societies in which it functions but rather as a protection for social experiments not immediately appropriate to such societies and a catalyst and stimulus to any progressive initiatives in such societies. It is however difficult to build into an organizational system sufficient challenge and variety to hold individuals permanently (as the problem of retaining second and third generation kibbutz members has shown). Acceptance of movement to and from the network ensures a healthy turnover of individuals' Such movement may be on a daily basis as in some open religious communities or for periods of a year or more. The latter formula has been developed in accepted movement of academics (who retain security of tenure) and corporation executives into and out of the government administration in the USA.

There is a slowly increasing amount of literature on the organizational network theme (2). It is therefore interesting to note the special issue of the Newsletter of the Peace and Conflict Research Programme of the University of Lancaster on the "network dream" which contains a proposal for action research in this connection (3). (see Annex)

This network of communities should not be designed or conceived as a finalized structure or mode of organization, but very much as an interlinked set of relative invariances which are in process of self-transformation and self-redefinition to elaborate new organizational potentials, and to reformulate their relationship to one another.


Whilst each of the different types of organizational network described earlier provides an example of some aspect of the hybrid proposed, it is particularly interesting to note the following:

  1. The International University (on which action is now being taken under a UN. General Assembly Resolution of December 1972), is to be a loose of existing academic centres between which exchanges will bc facilitated. Centrally recommended programmes will be adapted to the local setting. This is likely to suffer from the limitations of all intergovernmental -- establishment projects. (The newly established Inter-University Centre of Postgraduate Studies (Dubrovnik) may prove to be a very interesting node in this network. The recently abandoned project for an international Peace Academey (residential) would also have been an interesting organizational node)
  2. The International Peace Research Institute (Oslo) is one of the very few academic research centres which is organized as a democratic community of -- (partially residential) scholars. All regular staff members participate fully in decision-making and there is a common pay scale for all employees. A portion of subsidies or income received by each individual for research is made over to the community fund. The function of Director is rotated between staff members. In addition, the Institute conceives itself to be very much a part of the European network of political science research institutes and is concerned to facilitate inter-institute exchanges of researchers, information and publications. It is interesting to note that the Secretariat of the International Peace Research Association (of which t he institutes in that network are members) is rotated between the member institutes and is currently at Oslo. (see: Practical problems of the institutes and the possibilities of an increased .cooperation between them (Paper presented at the 3rd Conference of Directors of European Foreign Policy Institutes, Chartres, 1971). Oslo, PRIO.)
  3. Some 17 "think tanks" around the world (a number of which are residential) -- have themselves recently created an International Federation of Institutes -- of Advanced Study to facilitate "inter-tank" joint projects, exchanges of people and ideas and: "the building of a new type of community of joint interests and programmes through a continuous and orderly exchange of the plans of member institutes, as IFIAS as the collective and comprehensive examination of new ideas, concepts, materials and evaluations of the long term implications of the consequences of their own work .... The uniqueness of IFIAS as an international federation derives from its dedication to inter-institutional cooperation of a transdisciplinary character."
  4. The kibbutzim all over Israel are linked together into three partially formalized movements (of different politico-religious tendencies) to facilitate sale of produce and purchase of goods.
  5. The Association Internationale du Canisy (France) was established in 1966 -- on 8 hectares-- of land to create a residential research and dialogue centre to facilitate transdisciplinary interaction-- between specialists concerned with major societal problems. -- A further 44 hectares surrounding the centre -- is reserved for members to build their own residences and thus establish -- a working community.
  6. The network of monasteries (e.g. Dominicans) or convents (e.g. Sacré Coeur) belonging to each religious order (Western and Eastern religions) is, a well-proven formula in which the residential community, research, production, and service components are combined. Unfortunately, this is done at the expense of nuclear family life and through a denial of relationship between the sexes.
  7. The Denmark Peace Research Centre (Hesbjerg) is both an international -- peace college and a community. The community is made up of two main -- groups; those taking courses for a small tuition fee, usually non-residents), and those who engage in activity directly related to the -- maintenance of the college (e.g. teaching, farming, crafts, cooking, business -- enterprises. manual labour, etc., none of which are mutually exclusive.) Five 'hours of work six days a week permit a person to benefit at no cost from all the facilities of the community. This centre is conceived as a node in a network made up of the Lancaster and Vancouver peace research centres, hopefully to be extended to centres in Chile and China.
  8. The cultural revolution in China gave rise to a special institution, the "May 7th Cadre School" (named after the day in 1966 when Mao Tse-tung pointed to the need for them). The commune network is conceived as the major tool for transforming the society, but the cadre school networK is the society's fail-safe device. It is the institution designed to prevent the reseparation of government and governed. The principle is that all those whose occupations or positions of leadership tend to separate them from the masses should return regularly to field or factory work. There are no teachers and no staff. Part of the time is spent in manual labour and part in group study sessions when the system has been finally implemented, every official will spend regular periods at a cadre school as a form of sabbatical leave.

Rise of the Network Role

The creation of a network of communities would tend to have a special effect on the behaviour patterns of the members, beyond that arising from the switch to life in an organic community. It introduces an extra degree of freedom. What characterizes "network man"?

There are a number of well-established models which could be examined in the same way as was done for organizational forms:

Modern society has had difficulty accommodating most of the models, particularly as their independence and "extra-community" status increase. The traditional Indian culture sustained such movement to some extent without requiring an economic service in return. The question is whether some more viable hybrid model of persona! mobility within a network could achieve social acceptance as a stable and economically independent mode of behaviour -- and yet at the same time bc integrated into an extended community life.

Some network roles

Some possible characteristics of network man have been noted by Donald Schon (op. cit). These were extended by the author in another paper (The Nature of Organization in Transnational Networks) and are reproduced here:

Clearly some of the network roles are more relevant within the research-and-service community network then others, although because the descriptions have been phrased for organization rather than community networks, the relevance is not always apparent.

1. Value or goal generating and maintaining role

2. Research roles: model elaboration continually relating more factors together model development

3. Interpretative roles: communication of insights to other specialists of the domain interpretation for neighboring specialist domains (scientific journalism) interpretation for program experts interpretation for policy formulation interpretation for organization's constituency interpretation for general public

4. System defining roles: interrelation of elements of network emerging from different specialists' models education concerning system

5. Information roles: provision of information systems able to store, inter-relate and supply data on and for all elements of the network provision of widely known channels via which suggestions can be funneled to an appropriate level for consideration (by-passing units locked into conservative procedures)

6. Look-pout roles: detect and define the nature of emerging problems and draw their existence to the attention of the. appropriate bodies in the network

7. Emergency roles: reorient and rapidly mobilize available organizational resources in the network in response to crises for which no existing official body in the network has a clear responsibility.

8. Involving roles: formulate appeals to general public calling for support possibly by clarifying the human interest and emotional content of the issue. suggest and facilitate entry of the previously uninvolved to participative roles in the network.

9. Strategy or policy formulation roles: clarify the problems likely to emerge on a long-term basis formulate long-term strategy for action within the network in the light of the models and organizational resources available.

10. Broker roles (These and the following roles are adapted from Donald A. Schon. op. cit. p. 138-200): 11. Systems negotiation roles: ombudsman, guide, middleman or 'tolkatch' serving as the vehicle by which others negotiate a difficult, isolated rigid or fragmented network.

12. 'Underground' manager roles: maintains and operates a coherent network across jurisdictional lines, possibly performing functions having little to do with the formal agencies.

13. Manoeuverer roles: persuades or coerces institutions to make shifts in policy and procedures to make possible a project that cuts across institutional lines in the network.

14. Network manager roles: oversees official networks, assuring the flows of information, the processes of referral, tracking and follow-up, and the. provision of resources required for the networks to operate.

15. Facilitator roles:

Economic viability

It is obviously vital to examine the economic viability of centres as outlined above. The problem is to determine what activities such centres could perform successfully (possibly in direct combination with business enterprises) which would allow them to obtain specialized goods from the external social environment or obviate the necessity of obtaining them. There is a range of possible activities including:

1.-- The traditional aim of communities has been to become as independent as-- possible-- respect to the majority of agricultural foodstuffs. This -- formula has been well explored from that of the almost completely self-sufficient community through to the farm unit specializing in certain -- agricultural products sold to obtain others required. A variation on this -- has been the desire to grow foodstuffs organically, namely without the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides.

Clearly a centre could attempt to:

Of major importance however is that agricultural production should not become so, demanding in labour that no other activity is possible (as has happened on some communes).

2.-- Many centres should be able to guarantee their viability through their position in the knowledge industry (predicted to be of key importance in the next decades). Many of the following possibilities should be open to individuals or groups within such centres:

Clearly if the centre formula is well-conceived and well-implemented, it would prove very attractive as a living and working environment to intellectuals and creative or dynamic individuals frustrated by the lifestyles currently imposed upon them. The brain drain towards the commune movement has been frequently commented upon.

The centres could therefore legitimately hope to build up considerable intellectual and creative resources which would prove of interest to the external social environment and thus provide an important source of income.

The strategy of the centres in this respect would be to maintain an intellectual, cultural and qualitative advance over the external environment so that the services of its members are continually required. The centres maintain their advantage as centres of excellence and quality.

3. It has frequently been remarked that with the emphasis on mass production, mass markets and planned obsolescence, there is a diminution in products and services characterized by quality. In this the centres would have the advantage that the labour intensive nature of such work would not render the product uneconomic precisely because members of the centre would not be required to structure their working hours and remuneration in the same manner as in the external society. A "fair wage" is inversely proportional to the personal fulfillment derived from the work - and this is much higher with quality products on which the person wants to work.

There is no reason why such high technology products as quality hi-fi equipment and automobiles (which often start as backyard operations anyway) should not by produced by appropriate enthusiasts. The same is true for craftware and the elements of internal decoration (furniture, materials, pottery, etc.).

4.-- There are certain types of business which centre members might wish to operate. The publishing industry provides a good example. Certain books and periodicals for which there is a market and which in many cases could represent the development of the interests of centre members) are not published because of the costs of production, Given the commitment of individual centre members, a variety of such publications could bc produced to the economic benefit of the centre.

There is no reason why centres should not purchase currently operating businesses and develop them. The manner in which churches use funds obtained primarily by tithing is a good example (e.g. Mormon control of businesses in some parts of the U.S.A.).

5.-- Given the life-style and attractiveness of the centre setting to the -- culturally-creative, some centres could obtain an income by providing various -- entertainment services. Possibilities: theatre, cafes, restaurant, art exhibitions, etc, It is interesting to note that restaurant and evening -- entertainment at the constituent villages of the Club Mediterrannée is open -- to the external community for a (commercially competitive) entry fee. Again, -- such services could compete, successfully with commercial enterprises through the centre emphasis on quality, style and atmosphere.

6. Some centres may be well suited to deriving income from the international conference market. There are increasing numbers of small specialized conferences (often with aims which the centres would wish to support) for which it is difficult to provide a suitable setting - even though funding is available. Provision for such conferences on a residential basis should give rise to a useful income. Again, demand would increase if the centre could develop its ability to provide the atmosphere and physical setting conducive to the exchange of ideas. The presence of meeting participants might also, incidentally, ensure a valuable input to the centre community. This formula has been developed in part in some university research institutes, in corporation country retreats, and in foundation supported scholar's retreats (for example, the Rockefeller Foundation's Villa Serbelloni).

7.-- Of particular interest is the possibility that some centres might obtain -- income by caring for groups of people for which society's services are -- often inadequate, The aged, specially gifted, mentally retarded or physically -- handicapped are good examples. One or more such groups could be housed in appropriate facilities adjoining the centre (to avoid affecting its other -- activities, although note the unique example of the Dutch village in which -- all families offer a home to non-violent mental patients who then have a place in a real community.). The needed special assistance could then be provided by centre members possibly within certain hours only if they are not -- resident. Individual and group psychiatric and psychotherapeutic treatment -- might, for example, be provided on the latter basis. (The unique example of -- the Dutch village in which non-violent mental patients reside in the homes of the villagers and circulate freely throughout the community may be worth emulating.)

Centres would again have a special advantage in that the relatives of such individuals are often very anxious to obtain the best services available provided the cost is reasonable. Therefore, provided the centres can guarantee quality care in a physically and socially pleasant setting at a reasonable cost, this service could be a valuable source of income. From the internal viewpoint it also provides a very practical area of actIon for centre members which can he very fulfilling for certain personality types (often the male or female partner of' the more academically oriented).

This service also fulfills another important function in that it improves relations between the centre and the external community. If a centre cares for the underprivileged, it has much more sympathy than if it sets itself up as an exclusive think tank community.

This aspect has been well-developed by a number of religious orders and in part by voluntary bodies which care for these groups. The Salvation Army hostels are well-known as a haven for the destitute, another group which might be considered but for whose support funds must be obtained by appeal.

8.-- Related to the previous points is the possibility of operating some form of -- health or convalescence centre to which individuals could come for a fee. -- Given the expertise which should be available, maternity clinics and nursing homes could also bc operated. As before, these are services in which .unscrupulous commercial bodies are increasingly evident to the disadvantage -- of many individuals who cannot afford the very high prices. If the centres -- can establish a reputation for quality service at reasonable rates, then competitive success is assured.

9.-- The current organization of society does not always provide a physically and socially suitable environment for those seeking a place of retirement. Some centres might be able to create the right setting to attract intellectual and cultural leaders. Some facilities could then be provided which would generate a certain income. Such people might be involved in other centre activities as "associate" members. The retirement village formula is quite well developed in the USA.

10.-- Other centres might choose to sell office services and facilities to external organizations of a certain type. In some areas there are large numbers of voluntary bodies with very similar administrative problems (mailing lists, -accounts, duplication, etc.) which could best be resolved by a professional service provided the costs are reasonable. This formula is well-developed commercially but the voluntary organization market has hardly been explored. This market has the advantage that it may be related to the facilitative aims of the centre.

A related income generating activity is the "switchboard function" whereby the centre provides contacts at a fee. Freelance individuals (possibly in the centre network) with services to offer, can be brought in contact with bodies requiring the services. Possibly an employment agency for out-of-the-ordinary jobs could be operated. Various kinds of referral service for specialized enquiries could be envisaged.

11.-- As well as the possibility of generating income through research (see 2), there is also the possibility of applying research insights to the development of new products which can be patented and manufactured (possibly under license). Of particular interest is the recently named soft technology or "intermediate" technology. This is designed to be significant in the less developed areas as well as being environmentally sound.

Organizational questions

As well as the viability of the centre as an economic unit, its viability as an organization, must be examined. There is much experimenting with new forms of organization, the policy determination and member participation. This is not the place to draw final conclusions even if this were desirable. The following points are therefore only a few possible suggestions for the organization of some of the centres. Different organizational recipes may of course characterize different centres:

1.-- The membership structure of a centre may be very varied. A core of fully committed members may be envisaged with several other categories of membership of successively lower commitment.

2.-- The permanence of membership may also vary. Some members may be permanent, others may stay for extended periods (years), others for short periods (months), and others for brief periods (weeks or days).

3.-- The nature of the contribution of the member to the activity of the centre -- may also vary. Some members may be engaged in intellectual or other activities -- which are economically of direct benefit to the centre. Others may be -- engaged in activities which are important to the psycho-social stability of the centre. Some may be assisted by the centre and others may be,using the -- centre as resting place of some kind.

4. The financial contribution of members to the centre may also vary. For example, the land for the centre may be purchased as a condominium by a core group of members. Some members may donate lump sums to the centre. Others may arrange some formula whereby the centre receives interest on capital controlled by the member. Members may choose to finance their stay by some form of economically productive activity. It may also be possible to have some form of direct payment according to the class of accommodation and living-style desired by the member (e.g. hostel, apartment, or isolated cottage). Finally, soma members will be financed in whole or in part by the centre itself.

5.-- The above variety of member activity, permanence and commitment should be -- reflected in the manner in which centre policy is determined. The most -- satisfactory approach would probably be a rather complex weighted voting -- system. This could, for example, be based on a vote allocation to each member determined by his contribution to the centre under categories such as the -- following: permanence, value of activity to the collectively, financial -- contribution, etc. The value of votes under each category could,possibly be modified over time to maintain the stability of the centre.

6.-- The number of members a centre can successfully handle bears careful consider. Too small and the centre may not be viable either economically or as a psycho-socia1 organism. Too large and the centre may become excessively impersonal and of necessity over-organized. It is interesting therefore to note a scale of 'natural' limits, noted in particular by Anthony Jay (The Corporation Man. Jonathan Cape, 1972). He indicates-- 6 to 10 as the core group size (eg of the centre activists or elders), about 30 to 50 as the number of the group in-- which activists function, and about 300-1,000 as the community within which face-to-face contacts is still meaningful. There may therefore be a strong case for encouraging centres to split or spin-off breakaway movements or dissidents in order to keep the centres as organic systems.

Relations with external authority

Centres of the type envisaged cannot be established without taking into account the relationship to external authority (local government, national government or intergovernmental agreements) although this may occasionally be possible when an informal organizational structure is adopted. The nature of the relationship between a nongovernmental (non-profit) body and government varies very much according to the law and practice in different countries. Government in general is particularly anxious to ensure that the structure and activities of an organization do not lend themselves to tax evasion, maltreatment of minors, abuse of privilege,.or subversive activities. The latter may be very widely interpreted - particularly if the centre in question is in contact with others countries which permit expression of more critical opinions.

The following points might be considered, although the controversial ones represent desirable rather than necessary steps:

1.-- The most appropriate legal form for the centre should be adopted to permit it to carry out its activities in the country in question. In some countries this may therefore result in the creation of an institute, in others an association, a religious body, a business, a cooperative, a farm, etc.

2.-- The ideal is undoubtedly to move towards some form of extra-territorial status as was accorded to monasteries in earlier periods (and which still carry over in some countries today). This removed the centre from local governmental pressures and gave it some special relationship to the national government. Clearly governments would be very chary of re-establishing this precedent.

3.-- The centres could benefit tax-wise in some countries by being established -- as charities or their equivalent. A corporation structure may however give greater freedom even though the image may be more suspect.

4.-- Portions of the network of centres may link together more formally in international organizations (e.g. International Federation of Institutes of Advanced Study, International Cooperative Alliance). This may in the future provide a means of obtaining a special international status of benefit to the individual centres. Such organizations can already have a special relationship with intergovernmental bodies such as the United Nations although this is not without its difficulties.

5.-- Aside from the status of the centres themselves, that of the members must also be considered. Where all members are from one country, this raises no problem, but where many are from other countries, income tax, health insurance, life insurance, social security and pension rights must be examined. Whilst these problems are avoided in intergovernmental bodies and increasingly for staff of multinational corporations, they have not been resolved for individuals in other types of bodies. Individuals may have the status of visitor / tourist, business man, employee or scholar / student in a foreign country but they are bound by many restrictions.

An interesting precedent which might be reactivated is the "cultural passport' conceived in the post-war period as a means of facilitating the movement of scholars and artists (Council of Europe. Cultural Identity Card; attempts have also been made to develop identity cards for scientists and journalists. The international youth hostel and student cards are also interesting models). The very recent creation by the United Nations of a corps of UN Volunteers to work in developing countries may also suggest means of providing an international legal status to private individuals.

It is also appropriate to mention the efforts to promote use of an internal passport. These must have given rise to much thinking which could be applied to a travel document for persons moving through the centre network. Such, developments are not, however, essential to the functioning of the centres.

Style, image and survival

The style and image of the communities and the network as a whole, are very important to the long-term survival of the network. The network of monasteries survived through the Dark Ages by maintaining a non-violent, non-threatening style, offering needed services to the community, functioning as sanctuaries, and as centres of excellence. The monasteries, at least in Britain, were attacked as a network by the king when the style deteriorated and the approval of the people was lost. The monasteries had the special advantage of being spiritual centres.

What equivalent image is appropriate to the communities proposed? The image of "centres of excellence", "quality of life", "creative fulfilment" and "psychotherapeutic sanctuaries" is perhaps a good beginning. But this would not be a protection if the centres are in any way elitist or exclusive. (The drift in style from excellence to elitism is very difficult to detect.) They must therefore complement this image by one of 'providers of needed services' to the external social environment (4). This is the only way they can weather the predicted period of social chaos and arbitrary government.

A minimum of physical security or isolation is required, as with the monasteries, but the key to survival is in the psychosocial protective mechanisms. A collection of case studies of monastery-society relations during the periods of social chaos could prove most valuable.


This proposal has been made as though an entirely new network of "research and service communities" (R-S communities?) would have to be created. This is not so. There are a number of communities already in existence which have characteristics corresponding, in many ways to those defined here. A number of inter-community networks exist, at least informally. It may be sufficient to think in terms of the model and relate new communities to existing networks. On the other hand, perhaps some existing networks (e.g. monasteries, youth hostels, research centres) could usefully develop the additional characteristics, and convert themselves into communities of the type proposed.

It is an interesting point whether the development of any such network should be consciously planned and organized to any degree in terms of any evolving models or whether knowledge of it should be spread widely. It might be better to simply recognize the existing organic developments and to allow knowledge of the network to be disseminated selectively and haphazardly to those with sufficient affinity to it. This 'natural' filtering process might prove the best method by which to protect the growth of the network and to avoid clogging it with people parasitical to it. In which case it is questionable whether anything should be done about this proposal.

Annex: The Network Dream

University of Lancaster, Peace and Conflict Research Programme. Editorial, Newsletter, November 1972, No. 3

This newsletter is about the network dream.

The network isan attempt to put peace research into practicein a way which takes account of its ecological and cybernetic insights.  Network type organizations haveenough complexity to respond to change and stimulate variety.  Their survival may not be dependent on the survival of any one of the nodes at the same time all the nodes are interdependent.  Networks are thus relatively invulnerable organizations.  It is anticipated that the local nodes will develop into experimental societies which deliberately attempt to investigate and create alternative forms of organization and alternative futures.  They will have enough isolation to develop their own forms of social and cultural change, but enough connectedness to assure co-ordination.

We believe that societies of the future must be based on a grasp of ecological science rather than technological science.  This includes a knowledge of the principles of social dynamics, personal and interpersonal psychology and systems co-ordination.  They will be very much more aware of their interaction with the natural environment.  They must be in continuous adjustment, so as to remain adaptive:  maladaptive behaviour will have to bo discarded without physical or structural conflict.  In other words they must be self-organizing, naturalistic, not controlled from outside.

The idea that they should be adaptive suggests an 'evolutionary' design - there should be a lot of communities all trying different ways.  These communities are connected to some extent so that when particular communities develop favourable features, these features can be selected in by other nodes or by the whole network. Variety should be designed into the alternative societies both at the individual and at the social levels.  Individual communities may develop their own world views and characterstic sociocultures, but contact (through the exchange of information and individuals, participation in the same experiments, and collaborative computer simulation) might prevent the divergence of the nodes becoming unco-ordinated. In a way the nodes will cross-pollinate one another with ideas and experience so that the network may become more than the sum of its parts.

In line with this idea it is important that the network should have nodes in very diverse ecosystems, so that as a whole it will have experience in dealing with different ecological conditions and with the global biosphere.  For example the different nodes might adopt different types of social organization to adapt to their local environs but the network as a whole may develop experience of the relationships between natural and social systems and of what types of change in one are appropriate to changes in the other.

A further suggestion is to establish one node in a warzone or a devastated ecosystem.  This is to give the network variety over time as well as space -- this node might be simulating the future for others and experimenting in survival procedures.

Current trends suggest that the planet will ba devastated by nuclear warfare and ecological collapse in the time span over which this network is evolving.  There may be major disruption of the planet's ecosystems, complete collapse in the Industrial city-based civilization and breakdown of existing transport and communication systems.  Perhaps before this, the network may have tu face increasingly severe political constraints as the malthusian checks andtheir various social repurcussions begin to take affect. A decentralised organization of small, self-sufficientsocieties, developing intermediate technologiesand alternative communications systems might be a viablealternative to industrial society as a survival strategy.

At any rate, the network as a whole will be an experiment in this type of global future.  Network dynamics have been much studied by cyberneticians but have only begun to be considered in terms of societal and intersocietal organization. In terms of patterns of information flow, self-organization, and creative inter- action between the nodes, there would be many opportunities for innovations and experimentation.


1. J. Valadez and H. Miall. The Chile Community; a proposed socioecological experiment. Peace and Conflict Research Programme Newsletter. Lancaster, November 1972, No. 3, pp. 34~

2. See for example: Anthony Judge and Kjell Skjelsbaek. Bibliography of Documents on Transnational Association Networks (Section E). In: Yearbook of International Organizations. Brussels, Union of International Associations, 1972, 14th edition.

Donald Schon. Beyond the Stable State; public and private learning in a changing society. Temple Smith, 1971.

John McHale. The Changing Information Environment; a selective topography. In: Challenge to Leadership; management in a changing world. Free Press, 1973 (for The Conference Board).

Anthony Judge. The Nature of Organization in Transnational Networks. (Paper presented to the Dallas 1972 Conference of the International Studies Association). Published in abridged and modified form in Journal of Voluntary Action Research, 1, 3, July 1972, pp. 14-24. [text]

3. Paul Smoker. An Action Research Proposal for Global Networks (Paper presented to the Dallas 1972 Conference of the International Studies Association). Newsletter. Lancaster, 1972, No. 3, pp. 3-19.

4. 'Transparency ' and 'openness' are also important. The protection of the network against being swamped must lie in the nature of the life-style. Excellence and quality could be effective "natural" repellents without depending on elitism.

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