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“Cognitive and relational empathy” – March 12 at the EHESS

By March 2, 2019March 4th, 2019No Comments

On March 12 I present at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales my work on the cognitive and relational empathy, in the framework of the seminar on the “Californian Model”, organized by Monique Dagnaud and Olivier Alexandre. In the same session, Isabelle Berribi-Hoffmann (CNRS/Lise) will present her work on « The professional ethos in the digital work, from microprocessors to maker spaces ». Bellow you can find the abstract of my presentation. If you are in Paris, you are welcome to join us:

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 from 11:00 to 13:00

EHESS, Room A06_51

54 bd Raspail 75006 Paris

Cognitive and relational empathy: managing innovation in Google Maps and Facebook forums

Paris Chrysos, ISC Paris

This study starts with a surprising observation: in Google Maps and Facebook developer support forums not more than 15% of reported problems are solved within a period of six months. On the “Planet of Developers” (Larousserie, 2015), standard expertise fails to address the issues emerging from the field. Shedding light on this technological phenomenon, this study characterizes and models the exchanges taking place in those forums. Empathy (Chrysos, 2013), both in its cognitive and its relational dimensions, emerges as an original type of expertise.

In fact, known types of expertise within the context of the industrial enterprise (Hatchuel and Weil, 1995) are fixed in what regards either their starting point or their goals. In parallel, in the particular sphere of art management, empathetic critique can be understood as a manipulation aiming at highjacking the result of artistic creation (Chiapello, 1998).

On the contrary, the empathy observed in the technological forums remains open. Stepping in the exchange before the resolution of a problem or the implementation of a new feature, the empathy is expressed by the experts to take care of issues that, precisely, cannot be taken care of standard expertise (Chrysos, 2013, pp. 343-344).

In the framework of Open Innovation (Chesbrough, 2003), cognitive and relational dynamics go beyond the organizational boundaries. In such a context, the monolithic organizational schemas and technical settings loose their relevance. Filling in this gap, the technological forums become relatively autonomous places for expression (Chrysos, 2016).

Not targeting the outcome of third-party projects and having an open disposition, the empathy expressed in innovation ecosystems is both cognitive and relational. On the one hand, it clarifies the conditions under which a wish is expressed by developing knowledge and ideas. On the other hand, it develops links among the participants and the place in question (Chrysos, 2018).


Chesbrough, H. W. (2003). Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating And Profiting from Technology. Harvard Business Press, Boston, Mass., first trad edition.

Chiapello, E. (1998). Artistes versus managers: le management culturel face à la critique artiste. FeniXX, Paris.

Chrysos, P. (2013). When users create industries : the case of Web-based applications. PhD dissertation, Mines-ParisTech.

Chrysos, P. (2016). Monuments of cyberspace: Designing the Internet beyond the network framework. First Monday, 21(12).

Chrysos, P. (2018) Empathy in the business model: how Facebook and Google Maps manage external problem-solving processes, Working Paper. URL :

Hatchuel, A., & Weil, B. (1995). Experts in Organizations: A Knowledge-Based Perspective on Organizational Change. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter.

Larousserie, D. (2015, November 19). Voyage sur la planète des développeurs Qui sont ces passionnés de l’innovation, omniprésents dans le monde numérique ? Le Monde. Paris. URL: