From its deep red cover emblazoned with the skill and crossbones to the thick, frayed designer paper, The Pirate Organization: Lessons from the Fringes of Capitalism is a book that just invites you to read it. Harvard Business Review Press should be saluted for not only commissioning and publishing this thought-provoking title, but also for investing a great deal of effort into the traditions of publishing such as good design, quality materials and strong editing.
Authors Rodolphe Durand and Jean-Philippe Vergne reset history by arguing that piracy has been instrumental in creating the capitalist culture and that CIOs and business leaders can learn from the history of piracy.
“Take Pompey, who in 67-66 BC negotiated with several bands of pirates to get them to settle down, to stop hindering commercial development,” they write. “Ironically, the pirate and the emperor share a common characteristic: they both use power to appropriate and rule.” Ask yourself, how different is the behaviour of Pompey, who guaranteed the continued grain supply to Rome by reducing the threat of piracy in the Mediterranean, and the need for CIOs and organisations to solve the growing problem of cyber crime?
The central argument of this enjoyable read is that piracy is not anti-capitalism, it is in fact a pioneer of where business will go. The current wealth of rich media available via the internet, for instance, owes a debt to pornography, an internet community often aligned with pirates.
This title studies the entire history of piracy and looks at the cultural and organisational issues within piracy and how similar they are to today’s businesses.
From their studies, the two French authors argue that engaging with piracy will benefit organisations. This volume will entertain, challenge and enlighten you and is without doubt one of the best business books I’ve read for a while.