Is the world open?
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We talk about open societies, open innovation, open standards, open ecosystems, open source and open architectures. The idea of “openness” is emerging as a dominant attribute of key developments in our economic and social fabric. Richard Straub argues in this paper that “openness” is the defining quality of 21st century globalisation.
In today’s world of business we experience every day what openness means and what benefits it brings to bear. Openness is associated with values such as tolerance, individual freedom, lifelong learning, participation, empowerment and cooperation, as opposed to typical closed-world values of command and control, top-down management, centralized and bureaucratic governance, over-regulation and collectivist dominance over individual freedom. Monopolies or near-monopolies are examples of the closed world as are traditional hierarchies with their burgeoning bureaucracies and disconnected silos are typical manifestations.
The rise of social networking sites, virtual worlds, blogs, wikis and 3D Internet give us a first idea of the potential of the “interactive and collaborative web” dubbed Web 2.0. Now we have the infrastructure and tools to operate in new ways in open systems. While many of the thoughts about openness and the need for more open social systems have been around for some time, this new infrastructure and new tools accelerate the movement.
An open world is a world of great opportunity and challenge. It requires changes in our individual behaviours and attitudes and it demands major institutional adjustments. How can business respond to it? This article has been published previously at Global Focus, Volume 2, Issue 1 (2008). Publisher: European Foundation for Management Development www.efmd.org