Business, Culture / 14 Nov 2017
Models for the New Economy

A shift in leadership and ownership models from the business world is influencing the economy in ways that may have a lasting impact. Collaborative and cooperative models for business are growing, the middleman is being replaced by technology, and online platforms are being used for everything from employment to a model food waste program.

Cooperative models may evoke images of a quaint housing collective, but they are expanding across industries using a number of models. With the increasing complexity of research and development, crowdfunding and equity ownership are bringing diverse voices to the table. Many business startups with a great deal of complexity, such as a craft brewery, are using cooperative and collaborative ownership models to both fund the business and divide labor. With the increase in open source technology, researchers and inventors are using collaborative models of product and business development. The maker’s spaces and innovation accelerators are giving us both new products and technology, and new models for developing the products.

If the traditional model of a business could be drawn like a pyramid, new collaborations can be drawn like a geodesic dome- a number of interconnected small working groups that together provide a structure of both agility and remarkable strength.

The growth of online platforms has matured from places to check out used cars for sale to a number of innovative micro platforms that can be essential tools in the growth of local communities. The micro-labor platforms are an excellent way for freelancers to find work, and their cross-border structure opens up the world to work. The growth in these freelance marketplaces is very rapid, and may soon replace more traditional ways of outsourcing for businesses. Business has used the gig economy to outsource with increasing frequency over the last ten years. The new micro-labor platforms are opening the possibility to a significant amount of small specialist outsourcing options.

Small community-building apps are allowing communities to collaborate. Several new apps have been developed that allow restaurants to sell their remaining food inexpensively to local residents at closing time, for example, both reducing food waste and providing inexpensive food. Apps that connect local farmers to customers have brought the CSA model into the 21st century, allowing farmers to post the fresh produce they have available. While the internet continues to support information exchange on a global scale, local communities are using new models of collaboration for community development, reducing the carbon footprint that comes from shipping products around the world. An app that lets builders share excess building products with locals, for example, may keep lumber and spare bricks out of the landfills. This glocal model- global information and local products- is a model that may move sustainability from potential to possible.

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