Exit, Voice, and Forking

Cosmos + Taxis, Forthcoming

15 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2017 Last revised: 7 May 2020

Date Written: December 2, 2017


This paper offers a new framework to understand institutional change in human societies. An ‘institutional fork’ occurs when a society splits into two divergent paths with shared histories. The idea of forking comes from the open-source software community where developers are free to copy of a piece of software, alter it, and release a new version of that software. The parallel between institutional choice and software forking is made clear by the function and politics of forking in blockchain implementations. Blockchains are institutional technologies for the creation of digital economies. When blockchains fork they create two divergent communities with shared transaction ledgers (histories). The paper examines two instances of institutional forks. Australia can be seen as a successful fork of the United Kingdom. The New Australia settlement in Paraguay can be seen as an unsuccessful fork of Australia.

Keywords: Institutional change, forking, open-source software, blockchains, Australia, New Australia

JEL Classification: P51, P16

Suggested Citation

Berg, Alastair and Berg, Chris, Exit, Voice, and Forking (December 2, 2017). Cosmos + Taxis, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3081291 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3081291

Alastair Berg

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000

Chris Berg (Contact Author)

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000

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