This chapter introduces the institutional economics of distributed ledger technology. Blockchains are a distinct general purpose technology that provide reduce the transaction costs of exchange; that is, they are an institutional technology. The chapter presents the economic attributes of blockchains in the framework developed by Oliver Williamson. Blockchains complement and compete with other institutions that work to mitigate opportunism by industrialising trust. The chapter concludes with a comparative institutional analysis of blockchains as an institutional technology.
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