A great column in this weekend's Sydney Morning Herald by Ross Gittins, a political and economic journalist and author, reflecting on the difference of perspectives between economists and sociologists on how markets (and organisations) operate - essentially while economists see that "markets are composed of many firms competing vigorously with each other", sociologists see something quite different. Describing the work of Neil Fligstein, a professor of economic sociology at the University of California, in this space he explains:
"Fligstein's argument is that the actors in markets seek stability in those markets so that firms can survive and make profits without too much angst. He says no actor can know which behaviours will maximise profits - either in advance or in retrospect - so action is therefore directed towards the creation of stable worlds.
There are two potential sources of instability they have to guard against: the tendency of firms to undercut one another's prices and the problem of keeping the firm together as a political coalition."
When we wonder why Enterprise 2.0 and other Web 2.0 technologies (and even other disruptive technologies before that) aren't making as much traction inside organisations as we might like, is it because we assume these organisations want to do better when really all the managers want to do is survive, and all without too much angst?