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Pirate Organization: Lessons from the Fringes of Capitalism Hardcover – 4 Dec 2012

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (4 Dec. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422183181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422183182
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,025,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"...this is a stimulating book filled with new ideas. Philosophically minded land- lubbers will enjoy it just as much as barnacle-backs." -- The Economist "All this economic theory is paired with engaging analysis of the history and golden ages of piracy." -- Financial Times "An interesting and thought-provoking read. The book debunks popular myths about piracy being random and suggests instead that it is predictable, cannot be separated from capitalism and will be the source of capitalism's continuing evolution." -- The Irish Times "Rather than try to stamp out piracy, entrepreneurs and businesses should watch how pirates behave in order to stay successful." -- "This is an important book that adds to our understanding of the transition between different phases of capitalism...We recommend it." -- Compass, the magazine of the Association of Professional Futurists "Turns out piracy is not just opportunist brigandry, but a driver of capitalist evolution and a pointer to economic direction. So watch the pirates and stay ahead of the game. Yo, ho, ho and hoist the Jolly Roger!" -- The Australian Way (Quantas Airlines inflight magazine) Praise for the French Edition of The Pirate Organization (L'organisation pirate) "When laws and technologies change, piracy ... tends to arise. This was true when the age of navigation led sailors into waters where no one was ruler, and it is true on the frontiers of the information age today." -- Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times "A stimulating piece to savor" -- Le Monde "Daring, challenging, stimulating" -- Technikart "Inspiring ideas that push further the boundaries of reflection" -- Les Echos "A remarkable essay" -- Les Influences

About the Author

Rodolphe Durand is the GDF-Suez Professor of Strategy at HEC Paris. In 2010 he received the European Academy of Management's Imagination Lab Foundation Award for Innovative Scholarship. His work has been published widely in academic journals. Jean-Philippe Vergne is an assistant professor of strategy at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. His ongoing research on the global arms industry received the inaugural Grigor McClelland Doctoral Dissertation Award in 2011.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many more people should read this, and understand that the concept of "piracy" has many aspects to it, different to criminality.
Everyone needs to understand the internal dynamics of "piracy" to understand that what pirates often do today, the rest of the world responds to tomorrow.
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Format: Hardcover
How do futurists ply their trade? One method is to take a large number of observations of the world, join the dots to form an hypothesis about its workings, develop a model of the underlying causality of those workings, and then use the model to explain the past and speculate about the future. In terms of that process, this book represents an important work that has joined up quite a few dots.

When we think about piracy, we normally have in mind a vision of piracy on the high seas in the Eighteenth Century. This is historically inaccurate. The golden age of piracy was two hundred years earlier - in the Sixteenth Century - at the point where the European nations were starting to colonise and develop the freshly acquired lands in the New World. It was more Drake and Hawkins than Long John Silver. This is an important distinction that becomes evident when we consider what piracy is about.

It is best to view piracy as a process by which property rights are established in an environment where it is unclear to whom they belong. It is the mechanism by which public goods - in the economic sense, where nobody and everybody owns those goods - are made private. The golden age of piracy helped to develop the rule set by which behaviour was conducted on the high seas. The later brigandage on the high seas in the Eighteenth Century was about the enforcement of that rule set rather than its development.

This has resonance for us today in those areas where property rights are not fully developed. For example, one could argue that we are still in the process of shaking out the rule set that governs the digital world.
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Format: Hardcover
I had expected quite a dry and serious book or maybe something a bit contentious and academic but this is a brilliantly written argument for why we need the pirates and why we should be very afraid if they become extinct. This covers a lot of the same ideas as the Cathedral and the Bazar except that the Cathedral and the Bazar is like taking mogadon whereas this is like the buzz of 100 espressos.

Everyone should read it then the world might wake up and stop sleep-walking into a dystopian future which will make 1984 look like a house-party. This tells you how the state and capitalism while claiming to be setting you free and to allow free markets is increasingly controlling every move you make and soon every breath you take. All the time the establishment is trying to expand its control to impose its policies and now they do it by stealth through the link between corporate and government interests. Google's motto was do no evil but they have been complicit in helping this happen. Just this week it was revealed how the NSA and GCHQ had been involved with sim card hacking.

The elements of control are every-where as they seek to define what you will even think. Soon they will regulate education and the individual, the pirate, will finally no longer exist. We will all be cloned automatons following the line they want us to follow. In an education system that tells us what they want us to know preparing us for the careers they want us to have. This book is perhaps the final call to arms to stop this happening. We look like we have freedom and democracy but it is tightly controlled as they regulate even the wild west of the internet. This should be compulsory reading in every secondary school (although you will have to smuggle it in).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa0f0d258) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ff88de0) out of 5 stars Timid and tame 11 Mar. 2013
By Eric Traub - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I expected more of a book about piracy as pertains to economics and capitalism, especially with such a splashy cover, and supposedly embracing ideas from Deleuze, Guattari, and Sloterdijk. Instead, the authors seem to almost want to reassure State-run capitalism that any naughty pirates out there are actually a beneficial force and will soon be happily absorbed into the system. It's ironic that the spirit of the Outlaw is precisely what's missing from this book. A few nice ideas scattered amidst a whole lotta text. Intelligent writing for the most part, but timid and tame. This probably made for an interesting paper once (downloadable through their website) and became a book by adding useless filler. Too bad. Not the worst thing I've read recently, but nothing significant gained by the effort in this case.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f27272c) out of 5 stars How non-conformists influence capitalism 29 Dec. 2012
By John Gibbs - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Piracy could very well be one of the drivers of capitalism's growth and evolution, according to Rodolphe Durand and Jean-Philippe Vergne in this book. Pirates have appeared at major turning points in the history of capitalism: when capitalism began to spread along the trading routes towards the West Indies, when radio opened an era of mass communication, when the Internet became part of the global economy, and when the biotech revolution began.

To support their argument, the authors have adopted a special definition of "pirate". Humble Somali pirates who rake in mere tens of millions of dollars with their banditry do not qualify. Instead, true pirates have the following characteristics:

* they enter into a conflictive "relationship" with the state, especially when the state claims to be the sole source of sovereignty;
* they operate in an organized manner on uncharted territory, from a set of support bases located outside this territory, over which the state typically claims sovereign control;
* they develop, as alternative communities, a series of discordant norms that, according to them, should be used to regulate uncharted territory; and
* ultimately, they represent a threat to the state by contesting the state's control and the activities of the legal entities that operate under its jurisdiction, such as for-profit corporations and monopolies.

The authors draw a distinction between pirates, who operate as enemies to all states, and corsairs, who are sponsored by one state but regarded as pirates by other states. Thus Sir Francis Drake was part pirate and part corsair, and Chinese hackers who steal information from Western companies are sometimes corsairs.

According to the authors, the pirates of the Caribbean and Madagascar pioneered a number of important institutions. A pirate captain was elected on the democratic vote of all members of the pirate organization. The captain was in charge of maritime operations, but the quartermaster was in charge of distributing rations and booty and managing conflicts, so that a form of separation of powers existed. Pirate captains did not get preferential treatment; equality prevailed. The wounded were given extra pay, an early form of social insurance. Thus pirates pioneered democracy, separation of powers, equality and social insurance.

The book provides interesting ideas about pirate radio stations and anti-copyright activists, but when Wikileaks and patent trolls are referred to as pirates, the analogy seems to have been stretched a bit too far. Pirates are portrayed more as Gilbert-and-Sullivan-style do-gooders than as the violent aggressors that they always have been and Somali pirates still are. Nonetheless the book contains plenty of thought-provoking discussion about the impact of non-conformist organizations on the evolution of capitalism.
HASH(0x9f272630) out of 5 stars Fun Read with a Few Caveats.... 7 Aug. 2015
By David S. Wellhauser - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a book for people who already have a firm grounding in the history of piracy. If you do, then you are in for a treat as the reader gets an enjoyable analysis of piracy past and present. This reading of piracy is from France so it has less to do with the objective world than it does the world of textuality and endlessly defining and re-defining this textuality.

If you are familiar with post-structuralism the reader will get more out of the book then if they weren't. There is also a left of center reading of piracy and its relationship to capitalism. This part of the text is less convincing, but still fascinating.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars.

Worth a look if you are a critic of capitalism but still see a future for and if you enjoy late capitalist post-structural thought without the jargon.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f4320f0) out of 5 stars Cute metaphor 10 Feb. 2013
By Jackal - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Enjoyable reading on the fringes of economics and organisations.

The authors focus on the macro aspects and I would agree that the winner tends to set the rules. Fighting the received wisdom makes you an outsider or pirate in the management-speak of the authors. There is a strong underlying notion in the book that it is good to be a pirate. I take issue with this position because the authors never focus on the actions of the pirates; murder and theft. The authors might counter by arguing that the establishment would engage in the same tactics. Personally, I am not sure I buy into this relativistic perspective. In any case it would have been good if the authors paid attention to the negative aspects of pirates. But there is only so much one can squeeze out of a cute metaphor; entrepreneurs as pirate.

The book is a quick read and I learnt a bit about real piracy. The links to economics and management are cute, but not really insightful.
HASH(0x9f4321bc) out of 5 stars Excellent book for the openminders. 17 April 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you can practice the knowledge written in this book, I assure you can solve many of the problems your organization/city/community has.
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