Saturday, July 22, 2006

How Do We Track Networks of the Gift Economy?

One of the powerful dynamics of successful entrepreneurial networks is the use of complex reciprocity (or what anthropologists call a gift economy) to keep knowledge and resources circulating in a way that results in extraordinary economic value. The dynamic starts with network weavers sharing generously—providing important information about trends, markets, people and so forth. Entrepreneurs quickly translate this information into economic gain: they buy a piece of used equipment for much less than they had expected, they draw on the know-how of an experienced entrepreneur to develop superior products, or they gain entrĂ©e into a large grocery chain very quickly because someone shares the name of their key contact.

Next, staff encourage entrepreneurs to share generously among themselves, knowing that this behavior primes the pump of exchange and results in much more knowledge and resource sharing by others back to them. It is amazing how quickly the transition to this type of mutual sharing behavior occurs, even though entrepreneurs continue to compete fiercely with each other in many ways.

Network researchers, how do we measure this kind of complex flow? How do we track the shifts in values and behaviors that take place in a move to a gift economy? At what point does a phase shift take place, transforming the whole economic system?


Tutor Mentor Connections said...

I lead a non profit that applies many of these concepts of network weaving and building a community of practice. It can be seen at

I've piloted a journey mapping system that is intended to track the long-term impact of a group toward a goal. It can be seen in the OHATS section of the above site. As a non profit, I depend on volunteers to do this work, thus, I'm looking for network researchers who might want to trade their talent for our content, in a partnership that provides new information for researchers and needed talent for T/MC. Anyone who is interested can contact me at

SteveHabibRose said...

Peace, "Tutor Mentor."

I'm not sure from your description exactly what you are requesting. But, I'm receiving some mentoring from June in network weaving and the use of her and Valdis' Visual Network Analyzer software. I have very little time available, but might be able to do a bit with your project. I'll email you.

in community,


Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Hi Steve and June,

Thanks for following up via email. In June's story about the many small entrepreneurs in the area starting up and growing, I imagine there are many redundancies of programs looking for resources, ideas, places to network, etc.

Imagine if one or more intermediary organizatiosn stepped forward to link these groups together, and to identify actions that would help many of these groups get more of the resources they need, but without the costs, and the pain.

That's whay I'm trying to do with the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and I feel that the tools and research used by people who do social network analysis could be used to help people understand and duplicate what I'm doing, while helping me find more resources and partners to do it better.

I visited the International Social Network site and it's full of resources. Yet, I did not see an entry point where someone could introduce themselves to the entire group, withoug being a member. Thus, the site does not offer connecting points that would make it easy to connect its members with others who they might value meeting.

June, Habib suggested that we talk. I'd love to connect if you're interested. I'm at 312-492-9614 and at