When Entrepreneurs Meet: The Collective Governance of New Ideas challenges our understanding of how entrepreneurs crystallize opportunities surrounding new technologies. While innovation is the fundamental driver of growth and prosperity, how the earliest stages of entrepreneurship are governed remains elusive. This book creates a new, institutional approach to understanding entrepreneurship before emphasizing how entrepreneurs create governance structures to coordinate new knowledge resources.
Rather than the conventional view that entrepreneurship happens inside firms, this unique transaction-cost economics analysis of entrepreneurship suggests it might begin earlier in hybrid, polycentric self-governance structures, including the innovation commons. Allen explores and analyses various examples of these structures, including hackerspaces and the institutions coalescing around the development of the blockchain economy, along with the dynamics of how those institutions might collapse into firms. This new understanding of the entrepreneurial governance problem is also connected to contemporary questions about the purpose, scope, and application of innovation policy.
Abstract: This paper examines the institutional context of the entrepreneurial discovery of blockchain applications. It draws on institutional and entrepreneurial theory to introduce the economic problem entrepreneurship in the early stages of new technologies, examines the diversity of self-governed hybrid solutions to coordinating entrepreneurial information, and draws policy implications. To perceive a valuable and actionable market opportunity, entrepreneurs must coordinate distributed non-price information under uncertainty with others. One potential class of transaction cost economising solution to this problem is private self-governance of information coordination within hybrids. This paper explores a diverse range of entrepreneurial hybrids coalescing around blockchain technology, with implications for innovation policy. Defining the innovation problem as either choice-theoretic or contract-theoretic changes the remit of innovation policy. Innovation policy and blockchain policy should extend beyond correcting sub-optimal investments or removing barriers to action, to incorporate how polices impact entrepreneurial choices over governance structures to coordinate information.
Abstract: In modern economics, the institutions surrounding the creation and development of new technologies are firms, markets and governments. We propose an alternative theory that locates the institutional origin of new technologies further back in the commons when self-organizing groups of technology enthusiasts develop effective governance rules to pool distributed information resources. The ‘innovation commons’ alleviates uncertainty around a nascent technology by pooling distributed information about uses, costs, problems and opportunities. While innovation commons are mostly temporary, because the resource itself – the information about opportunities – is only temporarily valuable, they are a further addition to the Pantheon of commons, and suggest that the institutions of the commons – and the common pool resource of information about applications of the technology – may be far more important in the study of innovation than previously thought.