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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: July 2019

Chapter 18 - The Politics of Openness

from Part V - Challenges of Open Strategy


Recently, openness has become a new approach in strategizing as ownership and control of internal assets are no longer vital to achieving competitive advantage (Chesbrough & Appleyard, 2007). Nowadays, knowledge is widespread and open systems are generally regarded as beneficial in terms of organizational design and work culture. However, openness also comes with politics and it is not a practice that will necessarily be welcomed by all. Openness changes the power dynamics within an organization; there are critics as well as friends, as we shall explore. Openness is a process that can change over time, becoming more or less open as events occur and contingencies or actors change. We are interested in how dominant organizational actors can seemingly manipulate “open systems” strategically. Openness is problematic per se for social systems. Systems endogenously construct their differentiation from other systems through closure achieved through specific cognitive rules. In this chapter, we use Clegg’s (1989) “circuits” approach to a theory of power to grasp the politics of openness in terms of three circuits of power. Some of the recent problems posed in the wider world of social media will be analyzed in terms of the three circuits to illustrate some potential problems.