In early July I participated in the 2013 Roundtable on Institutional Innovation sponsored by the Aspen Institute’s Communications and Society Program. The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization that aims “to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.” It holds a variety of seminars, public conferences and other events throughout the year in its Aspen, Colorado and Wye River, Maryland campuses.
This year’s Roundtable took a close look at the impact of digital technologies on institutions and organizations. Over a number of sessions we discussed the various factors that are transforming the basic structure of companies. In particular, we explored whether the continuing advances in IT infrastructures and the accompanying emergence of a global digital economy are likely to lead to increased economic concentration or to increased economic fragmentation.
The Roundtable was sponsored by Deloitte’s Center for the Edge. The Center’s co-leaders John Hagel and John Seely Brown, recently published Institutional Innovation, an article on the evolution of organizations. A short pre-read paper based on the article was distributed to Roundtable attendees, in which the authors wrote:
“There are two dominant narratives about the institutional changes we are experiencing and neither one of them gives anyone much respite: the first is that companies will fragment to smaller and smaller entities and even down to individual providers; the second is a winner take all world where only the largest survive. We believe that both of these narratives are too simplistic. We see a world where both of these narratives co-exist and are mutually reinforcing rather than conflicting. Scale and fragmentation interact in a symbiotic relationship where the growth of each is what drives the growth of the other.”