At P2P Models we have a clear scientific – and political – approach. Knowing that science is not objective, our aim is, on the one hand, to evidence its possible biases, and on the other hand, to build theory from more heterodox perspectives. We consider that, when it comes to research, it is necessary to take into account a series of criteria to choose a case study.
With a feminist and action-research approach, we pursue, in addition to theory construction, the transformation of the realities in which we live.
The criteria we have established
We have a set of criteria established for an organization or group to become a case study in P2P Models:
Experience: we want to work with established communities, not collectives or newly created ones, as one of our areas of study is the power relationships that are established in the communities as they grow and develop over the years.
Complexity: we need complex organizations, so that our solutions are adoptable by as many communities as possible. We want to generate the greatest possible impact.
Size: Our principle is that “if the people who belong to the project fit into one room, they don’t need a blockchain”.
Presence in different countries and contexts: Part of the complexity is the organization’s presence in distant nodes located in different cultural contexts. Communities of such diversity deal with greater complexity.
Opportunity for intervention: with the objective of generating impact, we consider that there is a greater opportunity in communities with little technology. We prefer to intervene in contexts where the resulting impact is greater.
A socially relevant issue for our project: the future of work, the location of the economy, labor rights, and new unionism.
An interesting model: in terms of governance, value distribution, diversity and gender equity.
Commons: we are looking for organizations that operate in the field of promoting the commons. We believe that the governance of the blockchain can be similar to the governance of the commons.
Knowing that science is not objective, our aim is, on the one hand, to evidence its possible biases, and on the other hand, to build theory from more heterodox perspectives.
Example of discarded communities
Before embarking on the research of a case study, we looked at different organizations that could be interesting for the project’s objectives. We discarded communities where we found a lack of diversity, for example.
In one possible case study that was discarded, a lack of diversity within the community was an insurmountable issue. We noted that a lot of technical knowledge was needed to belong to the community and to play an active role. In this case, most of the profiles were of male technologists. We also identified that there was no perceived need within the community to subvert this dynamic. Also, communication was poor in the community, which meant that new members joined on personal recommendation and made the community even less diverse, as their socio-economic profile was very similar, as was their academic level, in addition to gender.
Another reason why we discarded communities has been their excessive localism. For our results to be truly scalable we need to have as much diversity as possible, including cultural and demographic.
Final selection of a case study
One of the case studies we selected is Smart IB, a management cooperative for creative and cultural projects. The reasons were the following:
Experience: Smart began in Belgium in 1998. It therefore has more than twenty years’ experience. This means that the work dynamics and power structures have been well and truly consolidated and can be studied. What are the nodes in the decision-making process? What does the community think can be improved? What can be improved in the technical structure? Questions like these are very interesting for us.
Complexity: Smart takes different forms in each country and within them it works in nodes distributed throughout the territory. Initially we are working with Smart IB, located in Spain, but we do not discard the possibility of conducting interviews at a European level to check the scalability of our pilot.
Size: it has more than 120,000 members in Europe and about 4,500 in Spain.
International dimension: 9 countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Netherlands, Austria, Spain and Sweden.
Smart IB presents a great opportunity for intervention, since it has very few digital tools in its internal operations and none based on blockchain, and therefore, we have a wide impact capacity when implementing technological solutions.
When we studied its governance, diversity and gender equity we found that it had a large associative network, mutualized services and wide diversity in its composition. Despite the fact that only men are present on its governing bodies, it has a majority of women in its structure.
Finally, it has an orientation to the commons thanks to its mutualized services, such as the following.
- Guarantee fund: an insurance of non-payment, a fund used to pay the members in case of non-payment.
- Company advances: the possibility of advance payment by the cooperative, in instalments or in full.
- Prevention of occupational risks, civil liability insurance, general and specialized legal advice on intellectual property, labor advice and support for the development of projects: services that are maintained thanks to the 7.5% that is contributed from each partner from the work done.
For all these reasons we finally chose SmartIB as a case study.