And the Nobel Prize for Collaboration and Content Strategy Goes to …

November 21, 2007 at 7:48 am | Posted in collaboration, communication | Leave a comment

Before I head off for Thanksgiving, I’d like to congratulate one guy who has a lot to be thankful for this fall. In October, Roger B. Myerson of the University of Chicago was awarded the Nobel prize in economics for his work on mechanism design theory. Professor Myerson did not join the Graduate School of Business until after I graduated, so I never got to meet him. But it seems he found a connection between the economics I studied then and the topics we study in the Collaboration and Content Strategies service today.

According to the University of Chicago magazine:

Mechanism design theory, he said, recognizes that “the economy needs to be understood as a communications system” as well as a market system. With its emphasis on incentives, information, and communication, the theory also has applications in political science, and Myerson has studied voting systems, including work on how to structure elections in Iraq to promote democracy.

Of course, I’m simplifying this down to the part that connects with the work of my research team. It’s really better described as how to achieve optimum equilibrium in situations where lying or withholding information would otherwise be a rational winning approach. But you can read more about this theory at the Economist (which includes the juicy tidbit that one of Myerson’s fellow prize winners lives in Einstein’s home and dresses up as Einstein on Halloween). Or, if you have a bit more time on your hands over the holidays, take an entire course on it at Harvard online (complete with reading packets and lecture notes).

I would propose that when applying mechanism design theory in a distributed enterprise setting – for example, among suppliers across a supply chain – many of the technologies we cover such as web content management and portals (to set up an extranet that establishes standard, reliable flows of information), e-mail, instant messaging, document libraries, discussion groups, web conferencing, and survey mechanisms could be of great assistance.  It seems Myerson uncovered just one more way in which dissemination of information and communication systems make the world go ‘round.

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