Organizing the commons

Organizing the commons. Business school at the University of Sydney (Sydney, 23/01/2020).

Organizing the commons. Thursday, 23rd January 2020, Business school at the University of Sydney

Seminar: When Ostrom Meets Blockchain: Exploring the Potentials of Blockchain for Commons Governance

Blockchain technologies have generated excitement, yet their potential to enable new forms of governance remains largely unexplored. Two confronting standpoints dominate the emergent debate around blockchain-based governance: discourses characterised by the presence of techno-determinist and market-driven values, which tend to ignore the complexity of social organisation; and critical accounts of such discourses which, whilst contributing to identifying limitations, consider the role of traditional centralised institutions as inherently necessary to enable democratic forms of governance. Therefore the question arises, can we build perspectives of blockchain-based governance that go beyond markets and states? In this workshop, I will draw on the Nobel laureate economist Elinor Ostrom’s principles for self-governance of communities to explore the transformative potential of blockchain. I will approach blockchain through the identification and conceptualisation of affordances that this technology may provide to communities. For each affordance, I will carry out a detailed analysis situating each in the context of Ostrom’s principles, considering both the potentials of algorithmic governance and the importance of incorporating communities’ social practices. The relationships found between these affordances and Ostrom’s principles allow us to provide a perspective focussed on blockchain-based commons governance. This workshop summarises part of our ongoing work at the 5-years ERC research project P2PModels (, and further information can be found in a working paper at


David Rozas ( is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain) in the 5 years ERC P2P Models project ( He is exploring the role played by decentralised technologies, such as Blockchain, to provide mechanisms that facilitate more democratic and decentralised organisational processes, as well as new models of distribution of value in the context of Commons-Based Peer Production. David’s previous research as a PhD student at University of Surrey focussed on individual involvement and group dynamics of Commons-Based Peer Production communities, studying the development community for Free/Libre Open Source Software, Drupal, in the context of the FP7 EU project P2Pvalue (