Ostrom Amongst the Machines: Blockchain as a Knowledge Commons
Cosmos + Taxis 10: 3+4
32 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2019 Last revised: 22 Feb 2022
Date Written: June 20, 2019
Blockchains improve on previous ledgers on several margins, including transparency, immutability, and openness. Though cryptocurrency tokens such as Bitcoin and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) are now part of the popular lexicon, institutional analysis of blockchains is just beginning to blossom. We add to the burgeoning institutional analysis of blockchains and their governance by considering novel insights from Hayekian and Ostromian perspectives on blockchain governance. We contend that concept of taxis is especially useful to describe the origins of any individual blockchain and that the concept of spontaneous order is uniquely suited to analyze the competitive features of blockchains. A novel insight is that blockchains may arise without government design, but they are centralized entities. Ostromian analysis is especially useful to characterize blockchains as knowledge commons and to provide an empirical method to analyze how rules internal to and external to blockchains combine to explain the performance of any individual blockchain network.
Keywords: blockchain, knowledge commons, blockchain governance
JEL Classification: B52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation