chapter  1
39 Pages

Moebius-Strip Organizations and Open Labor Markets: Some Consequences of the Reintegration of Conception and Execution in a Volatile Economy

WithCharles Sabel

Technology is commonly regarded as permissive rather than constraining: as much a tool for the realization of changing human ends as a machine imposing its rhythms on its tenders. Corporations, buffeted by markets that have become more volatile in part because technology is proving so malleable, are desperately trying to reduce their risks by transforming dedicated or special-purpose resources into general-purpose ones. This chapter deals with a sketch of a new form of organization that hedges its risks not through portfolio diversification into unrelated activities but by learning to move rapidly from declining markets or market segments to prosperous ones in the same or related industries. The precondition of this strategy is increased internal flexibility, and its consequence is the opening of the borders between corporations and between the economy and local society. The corporation often becomes, in effect, a holding company that makes strategic decisions, raises capital, allocates it among the operating units, and periodically monitors general performance.