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Enterprise hybrids and alternative growth dynamics

Kenneth M Levin, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation argues that the impetus, growth, and financial success of many North American high-tech companies—biotechnology, computer software development and design, as well as Internet startups—are partly due to their collective way of organizing the production and distribution of gross profits received. The dissertation shows how and why these collectives can be conceived as an alternative to the conventionally understood forms of enterprise organization. Hence, the analysis demonstrates how industrial success and technological innovation can be at least partly attributed to a kind of economic and social energy emanating from collectively structured production sites. The dissertation also presents and analyzes what it defines as the hybrid nature of many high-tech companies. That is, these companies often exhibit at one and the same time both collective and non-collective ways of organizing the production and distribution of gross profits. A class analysis reveals how and why these hybrids are formed, what happens to them, and why enterprises containing these collectively organized class structures can become caught up in cyclical growth patterns—where their collectives emerge from, only to reabsorb back into, fully capitalist class structures. Some famous examples evolved from small, informally run ventures producing in residential car garages into multi-billion dollar public companies with eventual spin-offs of their own. Consequently, the dissertation brings into focus the ironic conclusion that capitalism's supposed “high-tech revolution” might actually derive from different forms of collective production. Accordingly, economic theorists are forced to consider the political as well as economic effects of an analysis that treats collectivity not as the basis for some alternative, potential society that is entirely “futuristic” but rather as an enterprise component contemporarily “realistic.”

Subject Area

Economic theory|Philosophy|Social structure

Recommended Citation

Levin, Kenneth M, "Enterprise hybrids and alternative growth dynamics" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3118314.