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The Pirate Organization: Lessons from the Fringes of Capitalism Hardcover – November 27, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (November 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422183181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422183182
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #755,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“…this is a stimulating book filled with new ideas. Philosophically minded land- lubbers will enjoy it just as much as barnacle-backs.” — The Economist

“All this economic theory is paired with engaging analysis of the history and golden ages of piracy.” — Financial Times

“An interesting and thought-provoking read. The book debunks popular myths about piracy being random and suggests instead that it is predictable, cannot be separated from capitalism and will be the source of capitalism’s continuing evolution.” — The Irish Times

“Rather than try to stamp out piracy, entrepreneurs and businesses should watch how pirates behave in order to stay successful.” —

“This is an important book that adds to our understanding of the transition between different phases of capitalism...We recommend it.” — Compass, the magazine of the Association of Professional Futurists

“Turns out piracy is not just opportunist brigandry, but a driver of capitalist evolution and a pointer to economic direction. So watch the pirates and stay ahead of the game. Yo, ho, ho and hoist the Jolly Roger!” — The Australian Way (Quantas Airlines inflight magazine)

Praise for the French Edition of The Pirate Organization (L'organisation pirate)

“When laws and technologies change, piracy . . . tends to arise. This was true when the age of navigation led sailors into waters where no one was ruler, and it is true on the frontiers of the information age today.” — Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times

“A stimulating piece to savor” — Le Monde

“Daring, challenging, stimulating” — Technikart

“Inspiring ideas that push further the boundaries of reflection” — Les Echos

“A remarkable essay” — Les Influences

About the Author

Rodolphe Durand is the GDF-Suez Professor of Strategy at HEC Paris. In 2010 he received the European Academy of Management’s Imagination Lab Foundation Award for Innovative Scholarship. His work has been published widely in academic journals. Jean-Philippe Vergne is an assistant professor of strategy at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. His ongoing research on the global arms industry received the inaugural Grigor McClelland Doctoral Dissertation Award in 2011.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eric Traub on March 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I expected more of a book about piracy as pertains to economics and capitalism, especially with such a splashy cover, and supposedly embracing ideas from Deleuze, Guattari, and Sloterdijk. Instead, the authors seem to almost want to reassure State-run capitalism that any naughty pirates out there are actually a beneficial force and will soon be happily absorbed into the system. It's ironic that the spirit of the Outlaw is precisely what's missing from this book. A few nice ideas scattered amidst a whole lotta text. Intelligent writing for the most part, but timid and tame. This probably made for an interesting paper once (downloadable through their website) and became a book by adding useless filler. Too bad. Not the worst thing I've read recently, but nothing significant gained by the effort in this case.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Piracy could very well be one of the drivers of capitalism's growth and evolution, according to Rodolphe Durand and Jean-Philippe Vergne in this book. Pirates have appeared at major turning points in the history of capitalism: when capitalism began to spread along the trading routes towards the West Indies, when radio opened an era of mass communication, when the Internet became part of the global economy, and when the biotech revolution began.

To support their argument, the authors have adopted a special definition of "pirate". Humble Somali pirates who rake in mere tens of millions of dollars with their banditry do not qualify. Instead, true pirates have the following characteristics:

* they enter into a conflictive "relationship" with the state, especially when the state claims to be the sole source of sovereignty;
* they operate in an organized manner on uncharted territory, from a set of support bases located outside this territory, over which the state typically claims sovereign control;
* they develop, as alternative communities, a series of discordant norms that, according to them, should be used to regulate uncharted territory; and
* ultimately, they represent a threat to the state by contesting the state's control and the activities of the legal entities that operate under its jurisdiction, such as for-profit corporations and monopolies.

The authors draw a distinction between pirates, who operate as enemies to all states, and corsairs, who are sponsored by one state but regarded as pirates by other states. Thus Sir Francis Drake was part pirate and part corsair, and Chinese hackers who steal information from Western companies are sometimes corsairs.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jackal on February 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Enjoyable reading on the fringes of economics and organisations.

The authors focus on the macro aspects and I would agree that the winner tends to set the rules. Fighting the received wisdom makes you an outsider or pirate in the management-speak of the authors. There is a strong underlying notion in the book that it is good to be a pirate. I take issue with this position because the authors never focus on the actions of the pirates; murder and theft. The authors might counter by arguing that the establishment would engage in the same tactics. Personally, I am not sure I buy into this relativistic perspective. In any case it would have been good if the authors paid attention to the negative aspects of pirates. But there is only so much one can squeeze out of a cute metaphor; entrepreneurs as pirate.

The book is a quick read and I learnt a bit about real piracy. The links to economics and management are cute, but not really insightful.
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