Andrea Carson, University of Melbourne

A new book on so-called “new power” has attracted endorsements from a glittering array of public figures, ranging from entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, comedian Russell Brand and primatologist Jane Goodall to former Australian High Court judge Michael Kirby.

According to the book’s authors, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms, the differences between “old power” of the 20th century and “new power” of the 21st century are the approaches to governance, competition, sharing of information, expertise, and loyalty and affiliation.

In the new power paradigm, collaboration and crowd sharing are valued. Transparency and a do-it-yourself culture are favoured over secrecy and relying on experts. Affiliation to groups is not reliant on long-term loyalty; rather, short-term affiliations can lead to greater public participation. Heimans and Timms argue that new power values have moved away from formal governance structures to informal (or networked) governance, allowing individuals to opt-in.

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