Ecolead And CNO Base Concepts

Luís Manuel Camarinha-matos, Hamideh Afsarmanesh, Martin Ollus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

54 Citations (Scopus)


Participation in networks has nowadays become very important for any organization that strives to achieve a differentiated competitive advantage, especially if the company is small or medium sized. Collaboration is a key issue in addressing market demands, particularly in the manufacturing sector, through sharing competencies and resources. A new competitive environment for both manufacturing and service industries has been developing during the last few years, and this trend is forcing a change in the way these industries are managed. In order to be successful in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment, companies need significantly improved competencies in terms of dealing with new business models, strategies, organizational and governance principles, processes and technological capabilities. Thus companies are increasingly restructuring their internal operating and information systems and re-engineering production processes to both eliminate waste and lower the costs. Furthermore, they are changing the nature of their modus operandi by partnering with other companies in complex value chains and business ecosystems, which now extend globally (Myers, 2006). In today's industry, collaborative networks manifest in a large variety of forms. Moving from the classical supply chain format, characterized by relatively stable networks with well defined roles and requiring only minimal coordination and information exchange, more dynamic structures are emerging in industry. Some of these organizational forms are goal-oriented, i.e. focused on a single project or business opportunity, such as in the case of virtual enterprises (VE). The same concept can be applied to other contexts, e.g. government and service sectors, leading to a more general term, the virtual organization (VO). A VE/VO is often a temporary organization that "gathers" its potential from the possibility of (rapidly) forming consortia well suited (in terms of competencies and resources) to each business opportunity. Other emerging collaborative networks are formed by human professionals who may collaborate in virtual communities and form virtual teams to address specific problems, such as collaborative concurrent engineering or development of a consultancy project. Another case of collaborative network is the collaborative virtual laboratory (VL). Here a virtual experimental environment is provided for scientists and engineers to perform their experiments, enabling a group of researchers located in different geographical regions to work together, sharing resources, (such as expensive lab equipment), and results. In this case, and in addition to the network of involved organizations (e.g. research centers or research units of enterprises), there is an overlapping network of people. In a research activity most collaborative acts are in fact conducted by researchers that have a high degree of autonomy. Therefore, in this example, the necessity for tools to support human collaboration-advanced groupware tools, becomes evident. A typical VL involves scientific equipment connected to a network, large-scale simulations, visualization, data reduction and data summarization capabilities, application-specific databases, collaboration tools, e.g. teleconferencing, federated data exchange, chat, shared electronic-whiteboard, notepad, etc., application-dependent software tools and interfaces, safe communications, and large network bandwidth. A similar situation can happen in a virtual enterprise when engineering teams formed by engineers of different enterprises (virtual teams) collaborate on some engineering problem. Many more examples can be found in different sectors. For instance, we can think of networks of insurance companies, networks of governmental institutions, networks of academic institutions forming virtual institutes for joint delivery of advanced courses, networks of entities involved in disaster rescuing, networks of care centers, healthcare institutions, and family relatives involved in elderly care, etc. With the development of new collaborative tools supported by Internet and mobile computing and a better understanding of the mechanisms of collaborative networks, new organizational forms are naturally emerging. And yet all these cases have a number of characteristics in common (Camarinha-Matos, Afsarmanesh, 2006):-Networks composed of a variety of entities-organizations and people-which are largely autonomous, geographically distributed, and heterogeneous in terms of their operating environment, culture, social capital and goals.-Participants collaborate to (better) achieve common or compatible goals.-The interactions among participants are supported by computer networks. Therefore, the notion of collaborative network was established as a generic term to represent all these particular cases (Camarinha-Matos, Afsarmanesh, 2005): Most forms of collaborative networks imply some kind of organization over the activities of their constituents, identifying roles for the participants, and some governance rules, and therefore, can be called manifestations of collaborative networked organizations (CNOs). Other more spontaneous forms of collaboration in networks can also be foreseen. For instance, various ad-hoc collaboration processes can take place in virtual communities, namely those that are not business oriented-e.g. individual citizens contributions in case of a natural disaster, or simple gathering of individuals for a social cause (Camarinha-Matos, Afsarmanesh, 2008). These are cases where people or organizations may volunteer to collaborate hoping to improve a general aim, with no pre-plan and/or structure on participants' roles and how their activities should proceed. Reinforcing the effectiveness of collaborative networks and creating the necessary conditions for making them an endogenous reality in the European industrial landscape, mostly based on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), is a key survival factor. If properly established and managed, collaborative networks can provide a basis for competitiveness, world-excellence, and agility in turbulent market conditions, they can support SMEs in identifying and exploiting new business potential, boost innovation, and increase their knowledge. The networking of SMEs with large-scale enterprises also contributes to the success of big companies in the global market. Continued dedicated efforts on virtual organizations (e.g. through the Esprit, IST, and IMS initiatives), although fragmented, have led to a European critical mass and a culture of collaboration, giving early and systematic entry into the area. This "movement" is consistent with the process of European integration, which represents a push towards the "cooperation culture", while preserving the desire to leverage regional values and assets. In a time of very rapid technological evolution and socio-economic transformation, but also when other geographical regions (e.g. USA, Latin America, Australia, Japan, and China) are focusing their research strategies on this area, it is necessary to break with the tradition of fragmented incremental research, and aim at a sustainable breakthrough with large beneficial impacts on the society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods and Tools for Collaborative Networked Organizations
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages30
ISBN (Print)978-0-387-79423-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


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