How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently

How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently

“In disputes upon moral or scientific points let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”  wrote Arthur Martine in his magnificent 1866 guide to the art of conversation.

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Klaus Schwab , founder and executive chairman of the world dependant forum provides value update to the 2016 book, the 4th industrial revolution. This is largely techno optimist book.

The 2016 book calls for a future where innovation and technology is centred on humanity and the need to serve the public interest and this has only increased. P.1

“ the confluence of data with massive computational storage and cognitive power will transform industry and society at every level , creating opportunities that were once unimaginable from health and education to agriculture, manufacturing and services.” Satya Nadella. p vii.

“ restoring economic growth and productivity everyone is a name we all share comma and technology will play a leading role. Breakthrough technologies, plus a workforce trying to use them productively, multiplied by the intensity of their use, spreads economic growth and opportunity for everyone. Finally, trusting today’s digital world means everything. In every corner of this world, we need revitalise regulatory environment that promotes innovative and confident use of technology . The biggest problem is the antiquated laws that are unsuited to deal with contemporary problems. The potential benefits are unprecedented comma and as this book concludes, public private leadership and partnership is essential. Satya nadella .pvii

The world is at a crossroads. The social and political systems that lifted millions out of poverty and shaped our national and global policies for half a century are failing us. The economic benefits of human ingenuity and effort of becoming more concentrated, inequality is rising, and the negative externalities of our integrated global economy are harming the natural environment and vulnerable populations: the stakeholders least able to absorb the cost of progress.

Public trust in business government the media and even civil society has fallen to the point where more than half of the world feels the current system is failing them. The widening gap in trust between those in their countries top income Cortana and the rest of the population indicates that social cohesion is fragile at best comma and very close to breaking down and worst. You have left it is in this precarious political and social context that we faced by the opportunities and the challenges of a range of powerful emerging technologies from artificial intelligence, to biotechnologies, advanced materials to quantum computing , that will drive radical shifts in the way we live And I have called the 4th industrial revolution. P.ix

Standing at those these crossroads means we bear huge responsibility. If we missed this window of opportunity to shape new technologies in ways that promote the common good, enhance human dignity and protect the environment there was a good chance that the challenges we experienced today will only be exacerbated, as narrow interests in biassed systems further entrench inequality and compromise the rights of people in every country. P.x

There is a need for a new leadership mindset to face three challenges distributing benefits (exclusion), managing externalities and ensuring a human centred future (disempowerment). The fourth industrial revolution indicates that four key principles are particularly useful in defining this new mindset, systems not technologies , empowering not determining, by design not default, values as feature not as bug.  P15-16

Connecting the dots using what John hankel has turned a zoom out zoom in strategy. Zooming in means acquiring a minimum viable appreciation or understanding of the characteristics and potential disruptions of specific technologies. Zoom out and see the patterns that connect technologies and the way they impact us and others. Page 18

World Economic Forum global risk reports identify a I biotechnologies Geo engineering and Internet of Things as of particular concern although cyberspace threats to all things digital have risen to the top of mind over the last year. Page 29

be proactive towards a value based approach to technology. Be explicit about the political nature of technologies. Position social values as priorities for governance to direct technologies use and benefits. Identify where and how values become part of technical systems to raise awareness about integrating values in the development of technologies. P31

misleading views

  1. Technology determines the future
  2. technology is value neutral

understand that technologies in body specific social attitudes interests chemicals identifying the values that are at stake with particular technologies text Tom. In the political negotiation of societies technologies and economies , determining the amount of attention given to societal values is up to us . Page 34th in the white paper “and eusocial covenant” the World Economic Forum global agenda council on values identified “ a broad consensus across cultures religions and philosophies on some shared human aspirations which together represent a powerful unifying ideal of valued individuals, committed to one another comma and respect full of future generations” page 35

In 1945 Robert Oppenheimer offered his perspective that the purpose of being a scientist is to learn and share knowledge because of its intrinsic value to humanity. Starting from this statement of purpose he argued for the development of a joint Atomic Energy Commission comma the free exchange of information and a halt to the manufacture of bombs, all the while championing curiosity ambition and collective response. Change 38 the Hippocratic Oath ethics education

behind the industrial revolution in Western Europe there was a shift of values towards creativity, trust and enterprise. Value shifted in western economies during the 20th century to Keynesian (1950)  and then neoliberalism (1980) in all cases shifted values set a goal and provided the means of achieving it since values motivate people to act. The value shifts were accompanied by a clear positive and strong narrative accompanied by a powerful Vanguard for change. Only subsequently did changes in norms and balls lead to a wider shift in values amongst populations as a whole.

Empowering all stakeholders. Very uneven distribution of sanitation drinking water Internet access football“ our privileges are located on the same map as their suffering” page 51

Amarya Sen Economists and philosopher, argues that freedoms from hunger comma the ability to go to work comma the ability to participate in Democratic processes, have loving relationships , eccetera so both as the primary and as the Prince of primary end and as the principle means. Freedoms empower people and give them the capabilities to live good lives where they are wealthy or developing society.

Branco’s graph chose the benefits at bypass not only the very poorest but also those around the 80th percentile globally comma the lower middle class in advanced economies. There, many industrial workers have joined the precarious common facing lives of insecurity and stagnating wages. Now increasing automation has the potential to change who benefits once again stop pet 61

Moores law, that the number of transistors per square inch will double approximately every 18 months to two years, Has hit his limits at 43% of people globally now own some type of smartphone. Dinners bowl at the increasing speed and decreasing power use for transistors has already ended. Rocks law predicts at the cost of factories needed to make newer smaller chips doubles about every four years because they need greater precision and lower error rates.

In addition to the physical engineering aspects of computing the most significant challenge is now trust and security current classical computers require 13 billion years to crack a 2048 bit certificate. Quantum gate computing would be able to do this in minutes will start page 82

Mark Weiser 1991, wrote “The most Profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it. “ p 82

Blockchain trustDistributed Ledger technologies is the ability to create and exchange unique digital records without requiring a centralise trusted party it is cryptographyAnd peer to peer networking

The Internet of things means that in the next decade 80 billion connected devices around the world will be in constant communication with people and with each other new business models take advantage of the Internet of things to optimise their operations and create a pool economy, the world around us will continuously anticipate our needs by analysing our patterns of behaviour. Page 98. The number of Internet of Things devices will grow from an estimated 15.4 billion devices in 2015 just 75.4 billion in 2025 this will drive deeper connectivity in every part of life, linking together global economies in novel ways and likely encompass a burgeoning machine to machine economy as well . Page 99 the ability to expand from it administrative tasks are entitled mindset in shape for more synthetic perspectives as people become accustomed to considering peripheral input in the shaping of products services and ideas . Page 101

World Economic Forum report Industrial Internet Of Things: Unleashing The Potential Of Connected Products And Services, starts with firms improving their operational efficiency and progresses through the creation of new products and services. Leads to an outcome economy followed by an autonomous pool economy it includes sensors in the environment helping create a proactive management of resources . Page 101 the diffusion of Internet of Things requires the development and deployment of four different layers first the devices that sense, communicate and perform an action; 2nd the communications infrastructure that connects these devices together; 3rd a secure data management system that gathers and distributes the data both Poland the applications of processed the data and deliver bundles of services to meet the needs of organisations or individuals. Page 101

The US come economy is the transition to the purchase of outcomes by the hour rather than purchase of machinery to deliver the same the delivery of better faster and cheaper all three at the same time is the promise. Winners will be those who try early to overcome the challenges of data collection analysis and management; hose who connect seemingly unrelated streams of data in real time to find unexpected correlations and opportunities; Most importantly those who realise their industries are facing disruption and want to take part in the disruption rather than waiting to be disrupted. The losers will be those who stand by and wait for disruption Palmer failed to see the new business models of noting and ignore progress. Page 105

The European Parliament’s Committee On Civil Liberties Justice And Home Affairs amendments initially proposed by the EU general data protections and regulation. They had a four stage scale Poland looking at technical feasibility, environmental sustainability, social acceptability and human pressure ability. This ensures that the risks are minimised and the opportunities not missed. P111

God ethics is the branch of ethics studies and evaluate small problems related to data, algorithms and corresponding practises . Its goal is to formulate and support morally good solutions by developing 3 lines of research: the ethics of data comma the ethics of algorithms and the ethics of practises . Page 111 the ethics of data include one major concern for the possible re identification of individuals through the data mining merging and reusing at large data sets. There are issues with group discrimination.

Cyber risks special report

Between 2009 and 2011 the OECD reported that’s obvious security policy was becoming a national policy priority supported by strong leadership. While awareness is rising, Many organisations feel they are far from adequately equipped with the tools to manage cyber risks comma and leading practises in this domain “have not yet become part of the standard set of board competence Xbox page 115

cyber risks are increasing rapidly as three interconnected trends expand the scope of the digital domain. First the number of people using the Internet, 2nd the number of devices connected to the Internet, and third, the amount of data in digital form produced processed and communicated. Digital data and operations are rapidly moving from being background issues to life critical essential to our society and our individual lives . Page 115

To respond effectively to cyber risks we suggest four strategies, which are as much shifts in the way of perceiving the challenges as they are areas in which to invest . Page 115 :

  1. Redefine the goal from cyber security to cyber resilience. “we should be shifting mindsets to encompass interdependence and resilience, in order to be prepared for the multiple ways in which cyber risks can emerge and effect operations. In this context, cyber resilience can be thought of as the ability of systems and organisations to get stand cyber events, measured by combining the time to failure and the time to recovery . Page 116

Cyber resilience also enlarges the time horizon for preparing for the inevitability of cyber attacks. When focusing on systems which relate to data, rather than digital operations, organisations and individuals need to be resilient to at least three different cyber risks: the confidentially the confidentiality of data ; Its integrity ; And its ongoing availability to ensure business continuity. Page 117

  1. Redefine the adversary : from hacker to criminal organisation. Page 117 threats are well financed, systematic, motivated, innovative and persistent.
  2. Rethink attack vectors: from technical exploits to human behaviour. The easiest way to gain access to secure systems is simply to ask. 97% of malware attacks try and trick users into giving access to their systems, 84% of hackers rely on social engineering strategies as their primary strategy for accessing systems
  3. cyber resilience as a common activity : from individual to collective risks across industries and organisations, resilience is influenced by system level effects as well as being a property of individuals or organisations. As the world becomes more interconnected, cyber risks become truly persistent systemic. P118.

Sauber resilience Forums Global Cyber Centre

page 116

Artificial Intelligence and robotics

“ I will change the world in profound ways comma and these changes are not without risks. For example, robots controlled by I will have a difficult to predict reshuffling impact on skills and employment, creating heavy strains on society . Furthermore comma the workings of machine learning algorithms remain opaque to most people comma and these mechanisms may reflect socially undesirable biases that needs to be rectified. Long term forecasters warn not to underestimate existential threats if we fail to align the values of a eye with human value. They also warn about cyber security risks that may occur if criminals trick, hack or confuse AI applications. Researchers are therefore currently calling for the discussion of ethical frameworks and values to guide the development and deployment of AI and robotics. Page 123

the creation of teams and ethics divisions within companies has begun to gather momentum, this astute move hopes to persuade the public that industry understands its responsibility. They’re attempting to demonstrate this responsibility with the billions of dollars invested over the last five years.

Stuart Russell quotes Alan Turing 1951“ if the machine can think, it might think more intelligently than we do … This new danger and stop.. Is certainly something which can give us anxiety stop” the key idea is that the machines objective is to maximise the true human objective, but it doesn’t initially know what that is uncertainty that avoids the single minded and potentially catastrophic pursuit of a partial or erroneous objective. The machines initial uncertainty can be gradually resolved by observing human actions, which reveal information about the true underlying objectives. Page 127

the most pressing issues for stakeholders to consider are: ethical standards, AI and robotics governance and conflict resolution. Page 130

The upside and downside of drones

Drones are more economical (p150) “Drones have lowered the cost for military reconnaissance by replacing manned aircraft that attend to 50 times more expensive.” page 150

“defence ministries must be involved in developing the drone ecosystem and its regulation , as well as in tracking under manned aerial Eagles stop cyber security and drawing disablement over here hijacked drones could become a hazard or be used nefariously” P 151

Dapo Akande Drones impact the moral argument for the permissibility of states to execute individuals, foreign and domestic. That a technology can blur the lines of the ethics of conflict engagement, weather in a war zone or in a civilian government, gives us an idea of the technologies agency in decision making. By lowering the cost of killing, especially on the grounds of defence, drones can normalise the exceptional act of state sponsored killing. Examples of the latter range from war to police response. This problematizes the established rules of engagement and the Attribution of responsibility for actions taken . Currently operators manage drones to address these difficult issues. Should drones become autonomous weapons, with the help of image-recognition algorithms that enable them to make decisions to engage targets without human imput, the ethical debate will become even more complicated. Deciding when to apply normative measures to the acceptable behaviours an use of drones is a question for society and its values. The challenge of drone ethics highlights a clear space in which society can exert constructive limitations and agency of its own. Page 153

the questions we must ask her whether the benefits and the disruptions are being adequately conveyed to various stakeholders and where the companies are thinking beyond the bottom line. Public acceptance is the critical factor for small to mid sized commercial drones.

According to Raptopaulos “There is a moral responsibility on the part of the creator.” P153

Precision medicine (p.158) A major area of biotechnology is precision Madison whereby therapies are tailored to individuals rather than to a generic patient it is being driven by the increase in the availability of comprehensive data sets on individuals molecular makeup and results in greater precision in predicting effects of treatment.

Neurotechnology Our wide set of approaches with powerful insights into the working of the human brain allowing us to extract information, expand our senses, order behaviours comma and interact with the world. It represents an opportunity to create entire new systems of value while raising significant risks and governance concerns. Page 167

“The complex human brain is a fascinating domain. A skull has around 1.4 kilograms of cells , including over 80 billion neurons connected In over 100 trillion ways. With each of the 7.4 billion people living on earth knew everyone else , understanding their social relationships would be simplistic compared to understanding the pattern making potential of the human brain.” Page 168

Neuro technologies matter for three reasons: ability to read and write to the brain, improvements to mimic the brain, influencing the brain and changing our sense of self beyond natural evolution.

Breaking down silos is the biggest challenge to this field more patients tolerance and the desire to learn from other disciplines is necessary.

“The retail industry is using brain monitoring devices in focus groups to understand consumers decision making patterns and to tailor the customer experience in physical and online shops as with all behaviour influencing technology systems, this is an area of huge concern, not just because of the privacy or security issues, but because it grantsIsometric power to those who gather and use the data, while reducing accountability an agency for those being influenced ” page 173

In this area innovation is currently outpacing regulation and is even outpacing reflection about the potential issues. New technologies may appear to be amongst the most futuristic technologies of the fourth industrial revolution but, along with the futuristic benefits they hold, there are merging rapidly also with the promise to be highly disruptive full stopped public discussion about their use in various contexts and for different purposes is urgently needed to ensure they support and inclusive future.” page 174

Lynette Wallworths VR film Collision

What can you do to shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Being alive at a time of huge technological change comes with a responsibility to act . The more mature technologies and technical architecture become comma the more uses in habits are established by default comma and the harder it is to bring systems into the kind of equilibrium that truly serves the widest possible cross section societies combinations and industries. We must work hard, together, to establish the norms, standards, regulations and business practises that will serve all humanity in a future filled with the mature capabilities of AI, genetic engineering and autonomous vehicles comma and a virtual world every bit as difficult to master as the real one.

The numerous risks and pressures facing economies and societies that are referenced everyday in the media , including rising inequality, increasing political polarisation, falling trust levels and critical environmental fragilities, provide both impetus for and barriers to the kind of multi stakeholder collaboration and leadership required to make these decisions. Solving them will require collective leadership collaborative and inspired leadership to address the systematic changes and his succeed in delivering a better future for the planet and its societies . Page 221

The framing of the fourth industrial revolution presented in this book explores the dynamics, values, stakeholders and technologies of a transforming world . It creates the opportunity for a broad cross section of the leaders and citizens to think more deeply about the relationship between technology and society, understanding the way in which our collective actions and inactions create the future. Page 220

However as much as the fourth industrial revolution demands a shift in mindsets, it is not enough to merely appreciate the speed of change comma the scale of disruption and types of new responsibilities implied by the development and adoption of emerging technologies. Accidentally disable quiet from all organisations, sectors an individuals in the form of systems leadership, involving new approaches to technology, governance and values. Page 220

For governments urgent action investment in more agile governance and strategies that empower communities an engaged business and civil society. For business understanding the opportunities and launching experiments develop or adopt new ways of working sensitive to impact on employees, customers and communities. The individuals to be part of local, national and global conversations around the topics and taking every opportunity to directly learn about and experience the new technologies themselves. Page 220

Solutions – systems leadership: technology leadership, governance leadership and value leadership (p.221). Governance leadership requires a rethink “what we govern and why” with eight cross-cutting questions: mechanisms that reduce (not exacerbate) inequality, new tech to advance human den economic development, new policies and protection systems, new labour models, power used to avoid freedom and prosperity tradeoffs, democratic participation, empowerment, common purpose, meaning, spirituality and human connection remain as core,  Standard 15066:2016 amongst 22000 standards.

Governance is not the sole domain of governments – rather, it is a multi-stakeholder challenge that concerns every sector, industry and organisation. (p 228).

Values leadership The discussion of values can be complicated, but the existence of different perspectives, incentives and cultural context does not mean a lack of common ground. No matter our genders comma the importance of preserving the planet for future generations comma the value of human life comma the international principles of human rights com a Ana sincere concerned for global Commons issues and service starting points for recognising that the true ends of technological development Ultimately and always the planet and its people . To put it simply comma the way forward in the fourth industrial revolution is through are in essence that is human centred. Page 228

A model of cross sector collaboration seeks to overcome limitations in the humanitarian space by proposing public private data sharing agreements that break glass in case of an emergency . These come into play only under pre agreed emergency circumstances such as a pandemic and can help reduce delays and improve the coordination of first responders, temporarily allowing data sharing that would be illegal under normal circumstances. Page 233

Working within an organisation to develop a strong sense of purpose, ethical codes of conduct and a wider appreciation of the impact of technologies can be powerful and transformative. Changing internal structures, collaborating with other stakeholders and molding mindsets and behaviours are effective ways to align motivations and incentives with wider sets of goals . Page 235

Acting appropriately in this complex space requires a new perspective on technology that appreciates the many facets of technological change and seeks to apply the insights from this perspective at the personal and organisational levels. P.239

Is impossible to achieve if we continue to be able merging technologies as “smear tools” that are simply at hand for human use with predictable and controllable consequences . Nor can we fully empower ourselves or others if we give in to the complexity and treat technologies as exogenous, deterministic forces outside of our control.  P239

Rather all stakeholders must internalise the fact that the outcomes of technological advancement are tired to our choices at each level of development and implementation – Weather as an individual citizen, a business executive, a social activist, a large investor or a powerful policymaker. Just as our customer choices impact the future of companies and the products available to us, so to our collective technological choices impact the structure of the economy and the society.

If we can muster courage and act in the service of the common good, there is significant hope that we can continue and upward trajectory of human well being in development. Past industrial revolutions have been a significant source of progress and enrichment, though it is up to us to solve for the negative externalities, such as environmental damage and growing inequality. Involving all relevant stakeholder groups will help us overcome the core challenges ahead ; Distributing the benefits of technological disruptions, containing the inevitable externalities and ensuring that emerging technologies empower, rather than determined, all of us is human beings. Page 239 -240

My Life as a hostage negotiator

Gary Noesner’s book Stalling for Time: My Life as a hostage negotiator was recommended by work colleague and it did not disappoint. Lots of advice and ideas:Stalling for Time

  • resolve crisis while avoiding loss of life (p. ix)
  • influencing people away from violent courses of action (p.x)
  • has two rules: self control and control of those around you

Behaviour change stairway (p.12) is the negotiators way to build trust: Listen with interest ⇒ empathy in response ⇒ rapport ⇒  influence

  • be sincere and genuine

One way dialoguing until a two way one can be established.

  • think an Agenda, exit strategy and use normalising
  • never put a time limit (p.76)

“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them and strong enough to correct them.” John C Maxwell (p79)

Writes of the tension between tactical (SWAT) and negotiators – need to have negotiation and tactical operations working together – having shared briefings to ensure coordination.  Importance of coordination (WACO Davidians vs Local vs FBI – Dick Rodgers vs Gary Noesner, “He listened to my views but said that he saw no inconsistency between what we were saying and doing.” (p117)

Publication on -line

Australian Contributions to Strategic and Military Geography


Editors: Pearson, Stuart, Holloway, Jane Louise, Thackway, Richard Malcolm (Eds.)

  • Contemporary publication in an important and emerging topic at a key time
  • Drawing from military geography’s  spatial roots, its embrace of dynamic systems, and integration of human and biophysical environments, this book helps in understanding  the value of analyzing patterns, processes and systems, and cross-scale and multi-disciplinary ways of acting in a complex world, while making  the case for a resurgence of strategic and military geography in Australia.  Here, leading experts demonstrate that geography retains its relevance in clarifying the scale and dynamics of defense activities in assessments of the international, regional, national, and site impacts of changes in physical, cyber and human geographies. The cases presented show Australia contributing to a growing strategic and military geography


Why We Should Be Disagreeing More at Work

Assessing the wider benefits arising from university-based research

In response to a Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education  (DIICCSRTE) discussion paper in 2013 – I worked with Kate Delaney and Louise Osborne to write a response to the questions on the template.

The discussion paper is on Trove (thanks) but I cannot find a whiff of the final government response – perhaps that was lost in the renaming of the Department.  I notice many others have posted their submission on their web sites.  Lucky someone other than the Department is looking after the longer term.

I note ARC has been busy in 2016 with Engagement and Impact reviews and trials and then the media launch of the report on 1 Nov 2017 for 2018 implementation saying:

EI 2018 will use a small suite of key quantitative indicators combined with supporting qualitative statements for assessing engagement.

“Impact will be assessed through qualitative studies that show both the direct social, economic, environment and cultural impacts of university research, as well as what universities are doing to facilitate the delivery of these impacts,” said Professor Thomas (CEO of ARC).

Oh, now I am losing interest…

Inspiration – knowing what is not – but knowing what could be…

This speech from episode 1 of Newsroom was recommended to me by a friend; I liked it a lot. It took a moment to separate US exceptionalism from the more interesting issues of delusion of self, group or nation.

“First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.”
― Aaron SorkinThe Newsroom Script Episode 1

Evidence rating scale (NZ style)

Good intentions for social policies, programmes, services and practices are not always enough.

Decision-makers need quality evidence to know whether the programmes or services and they develop, invest in, or deliver are making a positive difference.

This NZ example provides a standard against which evidence for effectiveness of social sector policies, programmes, services or practices can be assessed.

How about appropriateness?  That is considered for the method and analysis but not the overall intervention.

Quick reference guide: Social Policy Evaluation NZ 2017 Rating scale 140617 WEB


How everything became war and the military became everything (Rosa Brooks 2016

Rosa Brooks, 2016 How everything became war and the military became everything: Tales from the Pentagon, Simon and Schuster, New York

NY Times review

An excellent book I read on flights to and from Darwin 2017. A law professor, journalist, Pentagon advisor and Army wife who grew up in an anti-war family.  Options:

  1. Denial (status quo)
  2. Jam war back into the old box
  3. War-peace continuum – develop new rules and institutions

Stuart’s notes from the book:

Rosa Brooks How everything became war and the military became everything 2016

Is the way of the 21st Century collaboration?

Social media, the web, mathematics & statistics, inter-connectivity, cheap international travel, globalization, mainstream trends in business and management practice, and even military innovation have been a fundamental challenge to hierarchical models of society, business, nature and war fighting.  So I’d be surprised to be living in the 21st Century and not ask the headline question.

Spoiler alert – I’m already a convert: Economics, Sunstein, Raj Patel, Elinor Ostrom and my work as teacher have given me enough evidence to judge that competition and hierarchy does a few things well but collaborations do new things better and for longer.  I’d rather work a lifetime in collaboration with volunteers than a year in servitude.

A useful introduction to the headline question and the field by  provides a useful overview to what is changing globally and the narrative around that change in CULTURE IS A NETWORK, NOT A HIERARCHY

But to return to the big headline question – it is answered in many disciplines.  I liked this boundary crossing response to the question by Donald F . Kettl (University of Pennsylvania) – and so did many others who cited it –  Managing Boundaries in American Administration: The Collaboration Imperative

This Australian collection is an impressive synthesis (ANZSOG conference on collaboration held in 2007) of leading thinkers and policy practitioners (eg Peter Shergold).  The conclusion (by Janine O’Flynn) is a challenge:

Reviewing research on collaboration, it is clear that public-policy scholars and practitioners, for the most part, don’t spend much time outside their disciplinary silos. In an ideal world, our current interest in collaboration should lead us to explore these perspectives; there has been so much written on collaboration that it seems nonsensical to start from scratch in public policy. Unfortunately, it is generally accepted that there is little cross-pollination, integration or, dare I say it, collaboration between these fields (for example, Hardy et al. 2003; Huxham and Vangen 1998, cited in Williams 2002). As the editors of a recent special issue of Public Administration Review noted, the idea of collaborative public management is studied largely without the benefit of examining the literature in related fields (Bingham and O’Leary 2006). In the concluding contribution to that collection, the authors suggested that ‘we tend to play cooperatively each with our own set of blocks…we do not generally pool our blocks to build a common structure collaboratively’ (Bingham and O’Leary 2006:161). We spend limited time looking to our colleagues in other disciplines and non-public sector worlds to help us on our way in understanding the promise and challenge of collaboration. To date, such ‘collaborative’ learning has been fairly limited, but great potential exists for interdisciplinary lessons.


I would be keen to get some comments, suggestions up-dates on collaboration (and the opposite of that).


Mapping the value of agents in a (business) network