The Problem of Creative Collaboration

58 Pages Posted: 2 May 2016 Last revised: 14 Jul 2017

See all articles by Anthony J. Casey

Anthony J. Casey

University of Chicago Law School; ECGI

Andres Sawicki

University of Miami - School of Law

Date Written: March 12, 2016


In this Article, we explore a central problem facing creative industries: how to organize collaborative creative production? We identify informal rules as a significant and pervasive — but nonetheless overlooked — tool for solving that problem. While existing literature has focused on the role that informal rules play in creating incentives for the production of creative work, we demonstrate how such rules can be even more influential in facilitating and organizing collaboration in the creative space.

We also suggest that informal rules are often a better fit for organization than formal law. Unique features of creativity, especially high uncertainty and low verifiability, create organizational challenges that formal law cannot address, as demonstrated by recent high profile cases like Garcia v. Google. But certain informal rules can meet these challenges and facilitate organization where law fails to do so. We explain how informal rules functioning through mechanisms like reputation and trust can sustain an organizational solution without a manager, a hierarchical firm, or formal law allocating control rights. Finally, we sketch out the dynamics in hybrid situations of creative organization where informal rules function alongside formal law.

Keywords: copyright, intellectual property, organization, informal rules, norms, creativity, theory of the firm

JEL Classification: D21, D23, H41, K00, K11, K12, K39, L14, L22, L23, L82

Suggested Citation

Casey, Anthony Joseph and Sawicki, Andres, The Problem of Creative Collaboration (March 12, 2016). William & Mary Law Review, Vol. 58, 2017, University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-22, University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 761, Available at SSRN:

Anthony Joseph Casey

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773.702.9578 (Phone)


ECGI ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

Andres Sawicki (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States

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