Transnational Network of Research and Service Communities
Proposal for an organizational hybrid
- / -
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
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
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
- political action
- scientific and technological development - economic and financial development
- education, training
- art, music
- architectural and machine design, urban planning religious faith, prayer
- social engineering, social development philosophical or esoteric understanding
behavioural and perceptual modifications by drugs public information, media,
- community development
- drama, theatre
- organizational development legislative action
- military or police action direct action, violent civilian protest persona[
encounter, dialogue, sex
- self-exploration, meditation
- mediation, negotiation - manual labour
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
The main characteristics considered of interest in the organizational form
to be discussed are as follows:
- Research: namely the presence of some activity contributing directly
to the advancement of scientific or cultural knowledge.
- Application development: namely the development of new techniques with
practical consequences for the activity of the organization or the society
in which it functions.
- Production (for internal use): namely the production of foodstuffs,
goods or services within the organization to avoid purchasing them from outside.
- Production (for external sale): of foodstuffs, goods or services as
a means of ensuring financial independence.
- Services (for needy members): namely the provision of subsidized or
free social services to members.
- Services (for external society): namely the provision of subsidized
or free social services to the external society.
- Social problem concern.
- Direct action (on external society): namely the ability to undertake
some programme of direct action (e.g. relief work) away from the organization
- Science /culture compatibility: namely the absence of rigid barriers
between scientific and cultural perspectives.
- 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).
- Relatively open: namely not specifically restricted to a small class
of people with a particular set of qualifications.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Recreation: namely a concern with individual re-creation as an essential
psycho-social process within the organization, in the maintenance of
- 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:
- Independence of centres namely their autonomy within the network.
- Facilitation of movement namely the extent to which movement of individuals
from centre to centre around the network is facilitated.
- Exchange between centres: namely the extent to which centres exchange
products, services and information.
- 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.
- Organizational experiments: namely the extent to which the network as
a whole encourages innovation at different centres to the benefit of the whole.
- Organizational variety: namely the ability of the network to tolerate
and contain a wide variety of organizational styles and concerns.
- 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
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).
-- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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:
- 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)
- 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.)
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- -- wandering scholar Middle Ages and later), sabbatical leave
- -- wandering minstrel / troubadour, nightclub artist
- -- pilgrim, yogi, wandering preacher
- -- youth hosteler
- -- hippy hitchhiker
- -- commercial traveller
- -- temporary secretary
- -- adventurer, explorer, pioneer, guide
- -- international news reporter
- -- diplomat
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
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
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.
assist parties to identify one another, serve as a channel for information
supplementing the parties* own information systems
negotiate deals between the parties
clear away institutional, regulatory and administrative debris which
stands in the way of transactions
maintain a special network cutting across critical elements of the
networks to be dealt with, which would otherwise be disconnected.
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:
fosters (as consultant, expediter, guide and connector) the development
and interconnection of regional or specialist organizations in the network,
each of which constitutes a variant of central themes of policy or function.
provide the mete functions of training and consultation which enable
regional bodies to establish and maintain their own networks.
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
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:
- survive on its own products
- sell excess in exchange for other goods
- function as a market garden
- specialize in organic foods (the demand for which may be expected to increase
with increasing pollution of the environment)
- -- obtain foodstuffs from other centres in exchange for services.
- -- purchase foodstuffs from the external environment with funds obtained
from other services rendered.
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:
- -- research under contract
- -- consultancy
- -- royalties from patents
- -- freelance work under contract in such areas as computer programming,
design, surveys, etc.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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 is 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
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
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
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.