Handbook on the Economics of the Internet
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Handbook on the Economics of the Internet

Edited by Johannes M. Bauer and Michael Latzer

As the single most important general purpose technology of recent times, the Internet is transforming the organization, competitive structure and business models of the private, the public and non-profit sectors. In 27 original chapters, leading authors discuss theoretical and applied frameworks for the study of the economics of the Internet and its unique economics as a global information and communications infrastructure. They also examine the effects of the Internet on economic transactions (including social production, advertising, innovation, and intellectual property rights), the economics and management of Internet-based industries (including search, news, entertainment, culture, and virtual worlds), and the effects of the Internet on the economy at large.
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Chapter 5: Peer production and cooperation

Yochai Benkler


Peer production is the most significant organizational innovation that has emerged from Internet-mediated social practice. Organizationally, it combines three core characteristics: (1) decentralization of conception and execution of problems and solutions, (2) harnessing diverse motivations, and (3) separation of governance and management from property and contract. Functionally, these components make peer-production practices highly adept at learning and experimentation, innovation, and adaptation in rapidly changing, persistently uncertain and complex environments. Under high rates of technological innovation, and the high diversity of sources of uncertainty typical of early twenty-first-century global markets, the functional advantages of peer production have made it an effective organizational model in diverse domains. From free software, through Wikipedia to video journalism, peer production plays a more significant role in the information production environment than predicted by standard models at the turn of the millennium.

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