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: Suggested Citation