Governance in Decentralized Networks

35 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2020 Last revised: 5 Jun 2020

Date Written: May 21, 2020


Effective, legitimate and transparent governance is paramount for the long-term viability of decentralized networks. If the aim is to design such a governance model, it is useful to be aware of the history of decision making paradigms and the relevant previous research. Towards such ends, this paper is a survey of different governance models, the thinking behind such models, and new tools and structures which are made possible by decentralized blockchain technology. Governance mechanisms in the wider civil society are reviewed, including structures and processes in private and non-profit governance, open-source development, and self-managed organisations. The alternative ways to aggregate preferences, resolve conflicts, and manage resources in the decentralized space are explored, including the possibility of encoding governance rules as automatically executed computer programs where humans or other entities interact via a protocol.

Keywords: Blockchain Technology, Decentralisation, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, Distributed Ledger Technology, Governance, Peer-to-Peer Networks, Smart Contracts

Suggested Citation

Karjalainen, Risto, Governance in Decentralized Networks (May 21, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Risto Karjalainen (Contact Author)

Streamr Network AG ( email )

Bahnhofstrasse 21
Zug, 6300

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