An Anti-Rival Research Vision

Our economy has evolved over millenia into a huge worldwide machinery, which is able to redistribute scarce resources, such as food, energy, tangible products, and personal services in a unprecedentedly efficient way. Over the last couple of centuries, we have attempted to make it deal with intangible goods, such as information and knowledge, and impersonal services, such as roads or water pipes, too. With modern technology, we are able to allocate non-scarce resources, such as data and digital goods, better than today.

With the advent of the global information superhighway, our business models have started to transform into digital ones, where data and other digital assets are used to optimise processes and provide new types of services at an ever faster pace. As a consequence of this, we have seen the rise of data giants on one hand and industry-wide inabilities to share data on another hand. In economic terms, we are seeing market failures that may be larger than ever before in human history, or at least since just before the breakup of the early 20th century monopolies, such as Standard Oil and American Tobacco, in the 1910s.

Our hypothesis

We believe that there are structural reasons for the monopolies and other market failures. In a word, we conjecture that data and many other information goods are anti-rival while our economy is centred around rival structures: private ownership and money. As a consequence, when trying to govern digital goods through enclosure, making them private property, and trying to compensate for their production and use with money, a rival form of compensation, the system will necessarily work in a sub-optimal, inefficient way.

Modern technology, such as distributed ledgers (DLT), allow us to create new ways to govern and compensate for digital goods. Already now we manage our property and debts digitally. That can be extended.

A digitally performed economic transaction merely reallocates a set of rights and obligations over a set of goods, i.e. who owns those goods. When I pay a chocolate bar at an automatic paying terminal at our grocery store, the system moves the rights regarding the bar to me, so that when I leave the shop, the guard will not stop me from taking the bar out from the shop. Paying with a debit card, the system moves a bit of debt so that my bank owes a little bit less to me and a bit more to the store. If I pay with a credit card, the system creates new debt: increases how much I owe to my credit card company and how much the credit card company owes to the store.

Since this is all digital, encoding rules that we are collectively enforcing through convention and legislation, the technology allows us to easily encode new rules. In other words, from the technology point of view, we are fully able to invent better ways to manage digital goods than private property and money. That is, while private property and money are “natural” and efficient ways to manage tangible goods, and while they were pretty much the most convenient and simple way to manage also intangible goods before the digital era, digitalisation has changed the situation in a fundamental way.

We are now able to encode and enforce new, better rules.  What is missing are the fine details of those rules and the collective will to enforce them. GMeRitS is creating prototypes for such new rules and testing them through experiments.

Our work

Our current research work spans three areas: understanding the design of new economic structures, evaluating the social impact of such structures through real life experiments, and constructing economic models to explain and predict the effects of such structures.

There is an open Zotero bibliography available.

Strategic Logics Behind Blockchain Projects: Capturing Value in Decentralized Ecosystems

Esko Hakanen, Pekka Töytäri, Taija Turunen and Ville Eloranta

Distributed ledger technologies, such as blockchain, offer a new to craft ecosystems: instead of a platform controlled by a single party, the ecosystem is based on a shared ledger. The promise of DLTs is appealing many companies, but little is known about applicable business models. We identify three strategic logics behind endeavors that are DLTs for ecosystem creation.

Aligning Multilateral Value Creation and Value Capture in Ecosystem-level Business Models

Ville Eloranta, Esko Hakanen, Pekka Töytäri and Taija Turunen

We propose the concept of ecosystem-level business model, empirically exploring the value creation – value capture interplay in ecosystems. Based on our empirical analysis, we 1) recognize the need for formal, yet decentralized, value creation – value capture alignment inside the ecosystem-level business model, and 2) highlight the design paradigms through which this can be achieved.

Will the data markets necessarily fail?

Pekka Nikander and Tommi Elo

We present a conjecture stating that any attempts to fix the market failure in the data markets within the current economic structures are bound to be inefficient. Only by redefining fundamental economic concepts, such as ownership and money, we can efficiently align the interests, clear the markets, and gain welfare potential.

Indicators and metrics for social business: a review of current approaches

Irene Bengo, Marika Arena, Giovanni Azzone and Mario Calderini

We perform a review of different accounting frameworks, including indicators and metrics applicable to the social business sector, discussing the strengths and the weaknesses of different approaches in relationship to their ability to respond to objectives and interests of different stakeholders in the social business ecosystem. Based on that, we discuss the key role that indicators and metrics could play in the light of the transformations that the social business sector is witnessing.