Governing Markets as Knowledge Commons

The New Entrepreneurial History of Shared Social Infrastructures


It is only the extent of the market that limits the division of labor – how effective and specialized can we become in what we do depends on the number of people we can interact with. But market-making is not costless. More importantly, the character of costs to be incurred while introducing and maintaining markets is not merely technological. Too often economists seem to overlook that before entrepreneurs can open a new business or turn an invention into a useful innovation they must make sure that the new combination will not be frowned upon, that the trading the new good in question is legitimate, and that, broadly speaking, there is a market to which they have access. The edited volume will bring together theoretical and empirical approaches that develop and apply the theory of commons governance to the evolution of shared knowledge structures necessary to sustain markets. We propose a volume that will contribute and develop the Governing-Knowledge-Commons (GKC) research program inviting both theoretical analyses of the joint production and reproduction of market sustaining social infrastructures as well as case studies illustrating the complementary nature and the co-evolution of the “play of the game” and “the rules of the game” thus connecting the GKC research framework with the New Entrepreneurial History.

Research Topics:

  • Case studies comparing the effects of impersonal (open access) social infrastructures with various forms of personal social infrastructures that depend on limited access to certain resources. Who are the agents who can buy and sell, for example? Who are the community members who can own certain artifacts?
  • What is the history and the narrative of a particular institutional framework (a market, a commons), in what way do these narratives situate institutional frameworks within existing social infrastructures?
  • Analyses of knowledge commons that enable markets by way of transforming diverse artifacts into goods that can be owned and transferred. How do the institutions of property and contract emerge when new artifacts are introduced?
  • How do entrepreneurs contribute to shared social infrastructures, how they transform and change them? Who are the decision-makers and how are they selected within knowledge commons?
  • What if the existing institutional and legal infrastructures do not reflect the current state of technological development? How do entrepreneurs envision and effectuate future opportunities under institutional uncertainty?
  • Historical case studies looking into how do entrepreneurs transform and assemble different kinds of resources, including various kinds of knowledge commons.
  • Highlighting the importance of intellectual and legal infrastructures that enable markets, and thus providing a better understanding of the threats and obstacles to such functioning.
  • Case studies examining ways through which entrepreneurs legitimize novelty. Cases of rule breaking, cheating, evasion, persuasion, justification negotiating away tension and rule uncertainty.
  • How do entrepreneurs overcome resistance to particular markets, for example in the form of moral repugnance or social resistance to for example the sharing economy?

Submission Guidelines

Proposals (500 to 1000 words) should be submitted to the editors by August 31, 2018. The authors of accepted papers will be notified by the end of September 2018. The deadline for final papers is March 1st, 2019.

Organization and Expenses

Selected authors will be invited to present and discuss their contributions at a Symposium on Governing Markets as Knowledge Commons (Spring 2019. Arlington, VA). Authors will be reimbursed for their travel and accommodation costs. Papers presented at the symposium will go through an editorial process after which they will be published in an edited volume as a part of the Cambridge Studies on Governing Knowledge Commons.