Publication Date

Winter 2-15-2012

Degree Name

MS in Management

First Advisor

Annie Viets

Abstract

Can egalitarianism exist outside of utopian fiction? Why do most intentional communities fail? What factors contribute to the viability of an intentional community’s survival? Why has Twin Oaks community been successful and sustainable over the past 45 years? What is their system of management and self-governance?

This research study explores these questions by examining an existing egalitarian community, Twin Oaks, and describing the complex system of management and self-governance that has supported its success for the past 45 years. To holistically observe Twin Oaks from an intimate perspective, I immersed myself in the community for three weeks living as if I were a full member. Through this anthropological experience, I was able to participate in Twin Oaks’ unique and intricate system and build a deep understanding of how it functions. Through this process I was also able to build strong connections with community members. I conducted my research through observation, formal and informal interviews, and personal participation. These methods were supplemented by attending community orientations and meetings, reviewing historical and archived information, and reading relevant literature written by Twin Oaks communards.

Although Twin Oaks is not Utopia, I do believe the community has successfully developed an egalitarian society. The founding egalitarian principles rely on resource sharing, income sharing, and power sharing. Members continue to uphold these principles, while at the same time providing a good life for themselves.

This research could be useful to those interested in creating a successful intentional community or those interested in exploring management styles that are alternatives to traditional hierarchy.

Disciplines

Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Social and Cultural Anthropology

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