Distributed organization

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The distributed organization model is a kind of hybrid between completely decentralized organization and elements of centralized organization. It is often deployed when a group intends to deliberately build a social movement to precipitate social change. A distributed organization is endowed with one or several groups ensuring a certain direction of campaign or movement but acting especially at the service of the network mobilized by the social cause. It maintains more or less important links with the participating individuals and groups. It cannot therefore be completely decentralized. Leadership is distributed among several groups and people who can be supported by coordination points. - The HUB

Examples of distributed organizations

Decolonial solidarity

  • Activists who organize with decolonial solidarity follow the direction of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in their fight against the CGL pipeline, which they did not consent to be built on their unceded territory. Groups under this network target RBC to divest from the pipeline, a target chosen by hereditary chiefs.
  • Organizers are connected under a network to receive campaign and leadership updates on direction and decisions made.
  • All groups that are part of this distributed organization use similar tactics and have the same target, but are independently operated.

Banking on a better future

  • Using similar tactics, Banking on a Better Future is a group campaigning to force Canadian banks to defund fossil fuels. The campaigning group has a number of on-campus chapters, most of which under unique names, that distribute resources and execute days of action planned by Banking on a Better Future. 
  • The groups that organize with them are free to decide which tactics they'd like to use and when they'd like to hold their own actions. They take some direction for network-wide actions, but also maintain independent decision-making structures.

If you have any suggested revisions or additional resources to share related to the above content, please email them to kenzie@lehub.ca.

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