A New Approach to Knowledge Sharing: The Multifactory Model

A New Approach to Knowledge Sharing: The Multifactory Model

Giulio Focardi, Lorenza Salati
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8336-5.ch009
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A Multifactory is a new concept of productive environment. This chapter presents what Multifactories are, their constitutive elements and how these interact. In this chapter will be also presented the governance system, that is largely self-generated, and the way knowledge is shared and how this brings to innovative practices in exchanging skills and professional services. The chapter will also present the way the Multifactory Model was developed, from the direct observation of different real cases within Europe to the on-field test of the model. The chapter also suggests how Multifactories can be a possible way to face the needs for job creation and an environment where to experiment innovative ways to share knowledge.
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“Many people say do it yourself, we say do it together, make things together and share knowledge.” Parade, M. (2013, July 15). Personal interview.

The debate about freely accessible knowledge refers most often to something that happens on, applies to, or is somehow related to the web and the world of Internet and digital technologies.

These are environments where collaboration between individuals prove to work and to produce resources of free knowledge available to almost everybody.

Outside the web groups, companies, and institutions have an increased interest in sharing environments and cooperative networks.

For example, the European Union alongside the Horizon 2020 program brings attention to Sharing Economy and Social Business, as these are seen as relevant points to support the economic and social development of European Countries.

This chapter focuses on Multifactories, which are a type of collaborative environment where free access to common resources and free exchange of knowledge between people are key factors in the establishment and development of economic activities.

Multifactories are environments that prove that the concepts at the base of free knowledge sharing and free access to resources can apply to physical places and spread into “common” society, or people not involved in specific movements, or driven by a particular ethic purpose.

Multifactories also exemplify the social benefit of free knowledge sharing and how to make possible a tangible improvement in social assets through collaborative environments.

Multifactories are emerging working environments that present peculiar elements of innovation: a Multifactory is a shared workspace, different from a classical Coworking space, as it’s not intended as a “desk farm,” but an environment dedicated both to the development of services and to the production of material goods.

A Multifactory is a Community of Purpose, where the purpose is job creation and the concretization of better working conditions. It takes form as a Community Project, where all the stakeholders take an active part in designing its shape and in the shared definition of norms, rules, and governance system.

Box 1. Crowdworkers’ Voice on Expectations
“In a way, MOB is a channel for me to get closer to people related to innovation and open collaborative systems, and that’s why it makes sense for me being into MOB.I didn’t have any expectations, at the beginning. I was working at home, but I realized it was too hard to spend so much time at home, alone, I was completely isolated and I was completely out of the world. I was spending 14 hours a day in my living room. It was unhealthy. At first, I started looking for an office, then I found MOB, and I felt it was different. My expectations were like a coworking space, with many people going around, but then, I think, MOB has exceeded my expectations in many ways. Especially for the workshops, and then I started getting familiar with these Makers, a movement I was completely ignorant about. Like in a way you’re working, but while working you keep yourself updated and connected to the world, so that’s the part that’s exceeding my expectations.” Rius, C. (2013, September 10). Personal interview.

Multifactories are multi-competency environments, which allow for a creative reuse of competencies and lead to product innovation and scope economies in small-scale businesses.

A Multifactory generates more value than the sum of companies’ individual values and is a completely new form of territorial entity that allows local governments and institutions to interact with a single economic and social agent. Therefore, it is not a “Factory,” but something close to the idea of a “village.” It gives back to single workers a collective representativeness and the consciousness to belong to a specific new and innovative Social Class (see Box 1).

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