The Commons of Knowledge: A Historical Perspective
The Annual Proceedings of the Wealth and Well-Being of Nations, Volume IV, 2011-2012
16 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2012
Date Written: 2011
In this paper prepared for the Miller Upton Forum on the Wealth and Well-Being of Nations, Joel Mokyr examines the ways in which “useful knowledge” — knowledge that can be applied to a wide variety of practical applications — is a common pool resource, and therefore presents all the problems associated with CPR management. The incentive problem with this particular CPR is not that it will be overused, but that it will be under-produced. Mokyr describes how intellectual societies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries solved this problem by incentivizing the creation of useful knowledge even though there was usually no direct remuneration for doing so.
Keywords: common pool resources, knowledge, incentives
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