Collaboratories

A recent Business Week article discusses IBM's new venture into "collaboratories" reported that the company:

Hammered out six deals for collaboratories in short order-in Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, China, Ireland, Taiwan, and India. Four more are in the works. John E. Kelly III, director of IBM Research, says there's enough demand for 100 more tieups. "The world is our lab now," says Kelly. "I figure I can have a much larger impact on the company and our research if I operate this way."

By collaboratories IBM means forming research partnerships with outside agencies rather than doing their research and development work alone and in secret. This whole approach, a different take on open source, is an interesting one to watch as generates a range of questions, including:

• How will intellectual property rights be determined?
• How will IBM cope with scientific challenges and different ideas?
• How will joint research ventures be funded and staffed?
• How will partners be idenfied and selected?
• How do partners learn to trust each other and work collaboratively?
• How will individuals and teams be rewarded?

Answers to these questions are likely to result in a very different form of organization design that will start around the collaboratories but will inevitably impact the parent organizations.

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