Confirmation Research Abstract/Brief Summary

I’m finally putting together a research proposal for my Confirmation of Candidature. I thought I would share. Please note, this is a preliminary draft.

Innovation is widely considered to be produced in suboptimal quantity; subsequently being characterised as a market failure. Government responses have led to externally imposed solutions dichotomously sitting between privatisation and public funding. Innovation is a coordination problem through uncertain trial-and-error; a problem where private and public solutions have widespread costs. We hypothesise that innovation resources may be pooled under common property where the institutional structure and governance rules allow efficient mixing of market information and technology in the pool; the ‘innovation commons’.

Are the commons are once again being accepted uncritically as a remorseless tragedy? Public policy presumptions over individuals forming efficient collective-action institutions have been misguided in the past, we ask whether they are once again. To do so, we aim to address why these innovation commons are emerging, the governance rules on which they are based, and how findings may be incorporated into Australian innovation policy. To seek this new perspective within innovation economics we must draw from numerous fields. These include: institutional economics, collective action governance, evolutionary economics, complexity economics and Hayekian knowledge coordination.

The potential of commons as an institutional solution to innovation has not been addressed generally or formally in the literature. This forms a significant place for addition both to the academic literature and practical policy application. The shaping of the Australian innovation system faces significant challenges in incentivising innovation into the future; forming our motivation.

The work is based on both an empirical and theoretical nature. While the majority of the analysis will utilise Elinor Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework to analyse case studies, this needs a theoretical influence.  The IAD framework provides guidance in applying case studies to situations where a complex mixture of rules, actions and outcomes may appear overwhelming. The IAD will be applied in a meta-analysis over two main case studies: hackerspaces and open science. Using the findings from these case studies, the thesis will provide a theoretical contribution to the literature in a modified IAD. This will take into account the additional complications when mixing innovation resources throughout the innovation process. This will concisely add to the body of existing literature surrounding commons, institutions and innovation.

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