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Institutional Change and Information Production

  • Fabio Landini

    ()

The organization of information production is undergoing a deep transformation. Alongside media corporations, which have been for long time the predominant institutions of information production, new organizational forms have emerged, e.g. free software communities, open-content on-line wikis, collective blogs, distributed platforms for resource sharing. The paper investigates the factors that favoured the emergence of these alternative systems, called peer production. Differently from most of the previous literature, the paper does so by considering technology (i.e. digital code) as an endogenous variable in the process of organizational design. On this basis the paper argues that the diffusion of digital technology is a necessary but not sufficient condition to explain the emergence of peer production. A similarly important role has been played by the specific set of ethics that motivated the early adherents to the free software movement. Such an ethics indeed operated as a sort of “cultural subsidy” that helped to overcome the complementarities existing among distinct institutional domains, and let a new organizational species to emerge.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 645.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
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Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:645
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  1. Armen A. Alchian & Harold Demsetz, 1971. "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organizations," UCLA Economics Working Papers 10A, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. repec:dgr:tuecis:0301 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-58, December.
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  10. Paul A. David & Francesco Rullani, 2008. "Dynamics of innovation in an “open source” collaboration environment: lurking, laboring, and launching FLOSS projects on SourceForge," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(4), pages 647-710, August.
  11. Craig, Ben & Pencavel, John, 1992. "The Behavior of Worker Cooperatives: The Plywood Companies of the Pacific Northwest," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1083-105, December.
  12. Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2005. "The Economics of Technology Sharing: Open Source and Beyond," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 99-120, Spring.
  13. Pagano, Ugo, 2011. "Interlocking complementarities and institutional change," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(03), pages 373-392, September.
  14. Landini, Fabio, 2012. "Technology, property rights and organizational diversity in the software industry," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 137-150.
  15. Richard N. Langlois & Giampaolo Garzarelli, 2008. "Of Hackers and Hairdressers: Modularity and the Organizational Economics of Open-source Collaboration," Working papers 2008-53, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  16. Ugo Pagano & Maria Rossi, 2004. "Incomplete Contracts, Intellectual Property and Institutional Complementarities," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 55-76, July.
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