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  • Series: New Horizons in Institutional and Evolutionary Economics series x
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Chris Berg, Sinclair Davidson and Jason Potts

Distributed ledgers record and make available information through time. Unsurprisingly, their use for managing records of goods (and services) as they travel through supply chains has been the second most prominent application of distributed ledger technology after cryptocurrencies. This chapter details the economics of supply chain management on blockchains as the creation and accumulation of identity attributes in historical time. It first details how distributed ledger supply chain management reduces opportunism, and consequently where value is distributed on the chain. It then outlines an identity theory of supply chains, and relates that theory to the ledger-centric view of the economy.

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Chris Berg, Sinclair Davidson and Jason Potts

This chapter details how blockchains facilitate a new category of firm: the V-form organisation, where vertical integration is outsourced to a distributed ledger. The chapter first outlines the evolution of the firm from the unitary structure (U-form) to the multidivisional (M-form), and explains how V-form organisations are distinct. V-form organisations are structured around supply chains of information. The chapter looks at the experience of V-form organisations so far, and makes some predictions about the future of the firm, which the authors expect to be smaller, less hierarchical, and more networked.

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Chris Berg, Sinclair Davidson and Jason Potts

This chapter provides a framework to think about public policy choices in response to blockchain technology. It first introduces the idea of ‘crypto-friendly’ public policy as a set of policy dispositions around regulatory clarity and consistency and a permissionless innovation attitude to the risks posed by new technologies. The chapter explores the complex balance between regulatory certainty and the rapid need for regulatory change in response to new institutional innovation. It then presents these policy change dilemmas in an international context. Blockchains are available wherever the internet is available, and blockchain firms can locate themselves in the most crypto-friendly jurisdiction.

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Chris Berg, Sinclair Davidson and Jason Potts

This chapter explores the long-run economic and policy consequences of wide-spread blockchain technology adoption. Blockchains disrupt the historical rationale for much modern economic policy. the authors formulate the institutional logic of a co-evolutionary model of the demand for economic policy. In the industrial revolution, complex production led to economic growth, but that complexity had to be managed through hierarchical governance. Karl Marx and Joseph Schumpeter both identified the consequences of hierarchy for power relations, creating a demand for public policy to counteract the effects of hierarchy. Blockchains offer the dehierarchicalisation of capitalism, and a corresponding reduction in demand for anti-hierarchy public policy.

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Chris Berg, Sinclair Davidson and Jason Potts

This chapter concludes and summarises the findings of the book. It observes that blockchains and distributed ledgers are an early stage technology. Scepticism about the value of blockchain technology is understandable, given that Satoshi Nakamoto’s White Paper was only published in 2008 and many important features – such as smart contracts – are even newer. The conclusion underlines how the significance of ledgers to economic exchange suggests that a new ledger technology will have long-run effects.

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Chris Berg, Sinclair Davidson and Jason Potts