What are some creative organizations with no centralized leadership?
July 28, 2013 1:12 PM   Subscribe

I was remembering this year-old post on the Valve company handbook and wondering if the Hive Mind new of any other companies -- particularly companies with some sort of creative output, whether for-profit or non-profit -- that work without a hierarchical structure? Good and bad examples welcome.

Here's a link to the Valve employee handbook -- the link in the original MeFi post doesn't seem to work anymore.
posted by HeroZero to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Are you asking about (for-profit) companies specifically, or organizations (where something gets accomplished in some manner) in general?
posted by eviemath at 1:15 PM on July 28, 2013

The latter, but specifically where that "something" that gets accomplished is something artistic.
posted by HeroZero at 1:22 PM on July 28, 2013

The Beehive Collective (Machias, ME, USA); Plan B Co-op, Roberts Street Social Centre, various artist co-ops and co-operatively run galleries (Halifax, NS, Canada). There was some sort of screenprinting cooperative here for a while. Any Indymedia chapter. Some (particularly smaller, more local) non-profits - though, partly for legal requirements, many non-profits have a board of directors which can be at least one level of hierarchical structure, depending on what role the board takes within the organization. Most activist groups that I know of involved in lefty issues (feminist, queer, anti-capitalist). Sometimes leftist bookstores or publishers (maybe look into AK Press, as one example?). Also look into free schools (or "free skool", or sometimes there's no space between the words, or sometimes it's hyphenated).

Not all worker-owned cooperatives are non-hierarchical (and not all non-hierarchical companies are worker-owned cooperatives, though my impression is that most are), but that would be a good search term (both for searching mefi archives and in general). Some other (non-artistic) search terms: housing co-ops, intentional communities.
posted by eviemath at 1:43 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

The New Century Chamber Orchestra makes all its musical decisions collaboratively with its 19 members. The group does have an musical director and nonprofit organizational structure, but they perform without a conductor.
posted by purpleclover at 1:46 PM on July 28, 2013

Take a look at NoBAWC, the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives. Because it's hard to find a list on their website, take a look at this map of NoBAWC members. Edited to add that many of the member collectives are a few decades old, with well-established processes (Rainbow Coop, Modern Times, the Berkeley Free Clinic, the Missing Link, & Cheeseboard come to mind), though there are plenty of newer ones, too. There's also an annual co-op conference, and I think folks at the Sustainable Economies Law Center are pretty experienced in advising worker co-ops.
posted by tapir-whorf at 3:50 PM on July 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know of a decentralized organization in North Carolina that mails books to prisoners.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:05 PM on July 28, 2013

W.L. Gore & Associates (makers of Gore-Tex)
posted by djb at 5:55 PM on July 28, 2013

The IndyMedia movement.
posted by mynameisluka at 12:09 AM on July 29, 2013

Related: There was some criticism on Valve's structure recently.
posted by devnull at 1:10 AM on July 29, 2013

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