Valve’s Organization: Opportunities and open questions

Georg von Krogh, Nina Geilinger


Valve is a very interesting case study! The company shares many features with open source software projects. In Valve, as in the open source world, the focus is on creating advanced technologies and letting developers self-select projects and tasks. Self-selection seems to work particularly well in an environment where technology development itself has a coordinating function. In software development, people have a strong bond of common knowledge based on design philosophies and approaches, language and terminology, and engineering tasks. In most cases, they also share a similar educational background and/or development experience that helps them implement creative ideas in physical machines and graphic environments. Developers rarely rely on detailed instructions from higher-level managers because they already have the implicit knowledge of what needs to be done. When inconsistent views about development come to the forefront, they are best reconciled where the knowledge resides: with the experts. Moreover, it appears that Valve has uncovered how developers’ self-selection of projects and tasks can be a powerful motivator to unleash their creativity.


new forms of organizing; organizational forms; non-hierarchical organizations; self-organizing teams; boss-less organizations

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ISSN: 2245-408X

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