Ben Moretti on 20 Sep 2000 03:59:12 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Rebirth of Guilds

[the actual report is well worth reading. i have held privately that the mutual
benefit societies and groups that played an important role in south australia
in the 19th century arose due to the inherent weakness of the state in the
colony, and that these groups would re-arise due to the same reasons. i know
adecdotally that there is a long line of these stretching back -- freemasons,
mechanics institutes, mutual benefit funds, etc -- so it only seems logical as
we move into a weak state mode of history, it would happen again. b.]

Rebirth of guilds-MIT Sloan researchers see a shift in workers'

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., September 1, 2000 -- Two researchers from the MIT Sloan
School of Management predict that over the next decade or so, there will be
a rise in guild-type organizations to serve the needs of workers who no
longer have traditional jobs.

"For workers to enjoy fully the opportunities this new economy presents,
they will require institutions to help blunt the greater risks they face,"
said MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Malone, who co-authored the working paper
along with Sloan Research Associate Robert Laubacher.

Guilds could provide to contractors and temporary and part-time workers the
financial security, benefits, career education, and social opportunities
that traditionally were provided by long-term employers.

"We are in a significant period of transition in how work is organized,"
said Malone. "The choices we make now will create the world in which our
children and their children will live."

Over one-quarter of American workers currently do not hold traditional,
full-time jobs, but instead work as independent contractors or as part-time
or temporary employees. Some of these people want full-time jobs but can't
get them; others, many of them working parents, have voluntarily chosen the
freedom and flexibility of working independently. Researchers Malone and
Robert Laubacher, believe that the most mobile of these flexible workers,
e-lancers-electronically connected free-lancers-will grow in number, as the
new economy becomes more dynamic, and teams of individuals come together for
projects and then dissolve when the work is completed.

The guild approach doesn't rely exclusively on the "usual suspects"-employers
and government-to provide traditional job benefits and support. Instead, it
relies on a rich ecology of other organizations to look after the needs of
mobile workers, as they move from assignment to assignment.

"This guild model is a description of what we already see beginning to
happen, a prediction what we think will become more common, and a
recommendation for policy makers, employers, and others to consider," said

"Nascent forms of these guilds have already begun to appear," said
Laubacher. "For example, Working Today, a non-profit in New York, provides
low cost health insurance and other services to freelance technology workers
in Silicon Alley. These organizations are coming in to fill the gap."

In addition, existing groups such as professional societies, unions,
community organizations or temporary staffing firms could expand their
offerings to meet more of the needs of their members.

Another added benefit of guilds in this decentralized economy, "Guild
membership might provide the sense of identity that many of us get from
positions in large organizations," said Laubacher.

This research is an outgrowth of the MIT initiative on "Inventing the
Organizations of the 21st Century which explored the new forms of companies
and work settings as we move into this new century. The research is also
based on findings from surveys and interviews conducted by CDI, a
Philadelphia-based Management Recruiting firm, published in "CDI at Work:
21st Century Thinking." For a copy of the complete Malone/Laubacher working
paper, go to: and click on working
paper #033.

For nearly a half-century, the MIT Sloan School of Management, based in
Cambridge, Mass., has been one of the world's leading academic sources of
innovation in management theory and practice. With students from more than
60 countries, it develops effective, innovative, and principled leaders who
advance the global economy.

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: