Economics / Technology

The positive political economy of innovation: Hackerspace anarchy

Hackerspaces are the pirate ships and prison gangs of innovation. That’s the take-away from the recent writing I’ve done on positive political economy, innovation institutions, innovation commons, and unique hybrid organisations, like hackerspaces.

Here’s a new working paper I’ve written with my RMIT colleague Trent MacDonald. In it we argue that entrepreneurs are seceding from the institutions of innovation policy by devising mechanisms of private governance over the pooling and sharing of distributed entrepreneurial information (i.e., they’re creating an ‘innovation commons‘). We were drawn to hackerspaces as organisations of ‘innovation anarchy’, as far away from the shadow of the state as possible.

Source: HCIL Hackerspace

Image Source

In this paper we outline the hackerspaces phenomenon before undertaking a meta-analysis of case studies and literature to examine the institutional rules endogenously created. Here’s our working abstract:



We’ve organised the paper around some of the main findings of the private governance literature, namely: ostracism or exclusion for non-co-operators; costly signalling; bottom-up collective action governance; preservation of governance autonomy; and nested hierarchies of rules.

Here’s a sneak peak into some preliminary findings from the conclusion:


I’ll post when I put this up on SSRN.


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