Generativity: Making Law a More Open Institutional 'Ecosystem' for Productive Innovation

17 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2015 Last revised: 12 May 2015

Date Written: April 2, 2015


Generativity provides a measure of the degree to which a system is open to innovation not necessarily contemplated or understood when the system was created or emerged. In economic analysis, generativity can be distinguished from efficiency as sometimes conflicting goals related to the factors leading to prosperity and growth. The property of generativity in our legal institutions is an important one for increasing the rate of productive innovation, and our laws should be designed with this principle in mind. Generativity does come with potential dangers. Protecting against those dangers, as well as fostering other social goals, will require balancing the institutional factors which promote generativity against those that mitigate risk of harm or that promote social cohesion. Exploring some of the considerations that might weigh in that balancing exercise can inform the debates that swirl around questions of regulation and freedom in our economic life.

Keywords: innovation; growth; institutions; risk

JEL Classification: K19, O31, O33

Suggested Citation

Goodenough, Oliver R., Generativity: Making Law a More Open Institutional 'Ecosystem' for Productive Innovation (April 2, 2015). Vermont Law School Research Paper No. 4-15. Available at SSRN: or

Oliver R. Goodenough (Contact Author)

Vermont Law School ( email )

164 Chelsea Street
P.O. Box 96
South Royalton, VT 05068
United States
802 831 1231 (Phone)


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