Tobold recently wrote a post on Guild Governance. In it, he talks about democracies vs dictatorships vs communists and how different forms of guild leadership fits into these things. It's an interesting post, and worth reading.
But one thing struck me, and I've noticed it in previous discussions about this topic. Why do we keep comparing guilds to nation-states?
If you think about it, other than being an organization of people, nations and guilds really have nothing in common. Nations are orders of magnitude larger than guilds. Moving between guilds is far easier than moving between nations, and there's no real defensive purpose to guilds. (Well, in most games. I'm sure Eve Online might be different.)
Perhaps it's because civics and politics generate so much noise and attention, and thought and study, that we automatically start to view all groups of people in terms of politics and political ideas.
However, political systems are not the only systems for organizing human groups, and I think there are other real world systems that would be a better match. For example, take small businesses.
In a small business, you have a few founders, and the employees. Everyone works together and earns profit together, but few would argue that the founders are somehow dictatorial for giving orders. It's generally understood that they are the ones who put in the capital and lots of time and effort. They lead because they started the business, and the employee chooses to be employed by them.
In many ways, guilds are very much closer to the small business model than natrion-states. You have a group of founders, the officers. They don't put monetary capital into the guild, but they put in the MMO equivalent, which is time. Your group does activities together and earns profit (epixxx!), which is distributed in rough proportion to the amount of effort put in by all parties.
Like small business employees, regular raiders can and do quit and join other companies. New raiders apply and can be "hired". It's not so naked as I am discribing, but there are a lot of similarities. In my opinion, far more similarities than to democracies or communist societies.
Looking at it this way implies that if you want to make a better guild, rather than trying to apply different political theories, you should look at ideas dedicated to improving small businesses. And I am sure that there are tons of such books and discussions out there. It's just not as sexy as politics and doesn't get as much ink.
There are other models that may apply as well. A guild could be modelled after a small military company, and the dynamic could be examined in that light. However, the guild as nation-state idea is really misleading, and is not really that helpful when trying to improve a guild.