In this paper, we explore novel ways for decentralized economies to protect themselves from, and coexist with, competitive markets at a global scale utilizing decentralized technologies such as Blockchain.

Article: The Wolf and the Caribou: Coexistence of Decentralized Economies and Competitive Markets. By Andreas Freund and Danielle Stanko. J. Risk Financial Manag. 2018, 11(2), 26

Michel Bauwens: There are several interesting aspects to this article. First the authors are from Tata Industries, who are reportedly very concerned about the future of their industrial verticals and actively looking for successor systems. Second this article is very liberal in quoting the work of the P2P Foundation about the institutionalization of peer production. And third, it examines how our models fit with the emerging possibilities of the blockchain , tokens and programmable organizations, i.e. ‘Distributed Autonomous Organizations’.

However, in doing so, it also does something very problematic in our view, ie it assumes that the current wave of crypto projects conform to these generative, commons-based vision of our economy, while they clearly don’t. While current crypto-based projects are interesting new models, most of them are extractive to people and the planet, and use the commons and open source in the context of achieving value capture. Without a clear distinction between generative and extractive economic modes, we justify the worst excesses of the current crypto-based economy.


Andreas Freund and Danielle Stanko: “Starting with BitTorrent and then Bitcoin, decentralized technologies have been on the rise over the last 15+ years, gaining significant momentum in the last 2+ years with the advent of platform ecosystems such as the Blockchain platform Ethereum. New projects have evolved from decentralized games to marketplaces to open funding models to decentralized autonomous organizations. The hype around cryptocurrency and the valuation of innovative projects drove the market cap of cryptocurrencies to over a trillion dollars at one point in 2017. These high valued technologies are now enabling something new: globally scaled and decentralized business models. Despite their valuation and the hype, these new business ecosystems are frail. This is not only because the underlying technology is rapidly evolving, but also because competitive markets see a profit opportunity in exponential cryptocurrency returns. This extracts value from these ecosystems, which could lead to their collapse, if unchecked. In this paper, we explore novel ways for decentralized economies to protect themselves from, and coexist with, competitive markets at a global scale utilizing decentralized technologies such as Blockchain.”


“Based on available research, decentralized socioeconomic models, also often referred to as a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) or Commons6 structure typically have three main components (Giotitsas and Ramos 2017; Filippi et al. 2007):

  • Entrepreneurial Common (EC): An EC is the commercial interface with external ecosystems and gives funds it raised from selling goods and services or other activities such as investments in other ecosystems in the form of tokens to the For-Benefit Common (FBC) and receives goods & services to market and sell from the Production Common (PC) in return. This requires exchange between an EC token and Fiat and a PC token that is governed by the FBC. Tokens generally represent a unit of value as defined by the participants of a DAO, and there may be many tokens within a DAO. In addition, the EC is responsible for financial and monetary policy in the DAO since issuing a token is effectively creating a currency with all the accompanying complexities. We will discuss this in more detail when we discuss our proposals for the coexistence of decentralized economies and competitive markets;
  • Production Common (PC): A p2p group that produces goods and services collaboratively based on the purpose of the ecosystem as established in the FBC. A participant’s contributions are valued in PC tokens which can be exchanged to EC tokens or other tokens through an exchange utility, as detailed out in one of our four proposals below. Assets created in this common are held in common by the FBC with claims rights by the contributors based on their value contribution to the asset in order to enable a fair sharing of value generated both commercially and through reputation;
  • For-Benefit Common (FBC): The FBC is the governance common that is responsible for setting the DAO vision and impact goals, sets consensus rules and incentives for the DAO commons, sets the exchange rules for the EC and PC Tokens within the commons and externally to other ecosystem tokens and fiat, sets the ownership/membership and sharing rules for the DAO commons, defines and enforces reputation also in relation to non-DAO reputation measurement and management models, sets collaboration and giving rules with internal and external entities, and acts as the interface to not-for-benefit entities etc.

This three-zone model is designed to

  • Insulate the economically vulnerable FBC and PC from extractive external markets through the EC commons by limiting token exchanges between the common markets that have direct interfaces to competitive markets.
  • Enable social impact results through the FBC without a strong dependency on market results. The FBC decides the use of funds coming from the EC. As a result it is independent of “shareholder value” as defined by external and extractive markets; therefore it is accountable to the PC and EC participants.
  • Allows the EC to focus on raising funds for both the FBC and PC either through selling products and services or raising funds for future products and services and social impact efforts.
  • Enables the PC to focus on core competencies to create new products and services aligned with the overall DAO values independent of the EC.

It is worth noting that decentralized economies as described above typically have three characteristics in common (Commons Transition Primer 2018, Commons-Based Peer Production Directory 2018, 2017):

  • Open Value Accounting: An accounting system that allows one to record not only tangible assets and assess their value in a unit of value measure, but also to record tangible and intangible value contributions from participants to an asset and subsequent value translation into a unit of value measure such as a token in a decentralized socioeconomic model;
  • Decentralized Commons Market: A decentralized marketplace for the free exchange of assets and services governed by business rules established by a governing commons through participant consensus. The decentralized marketplace is transparent and has verifiable and marketplace transactions. In order to motivate participation in a decentralized commons market (DCM), a DCM has an incentive model for both tangible and intangible value contributions and open asset ownership representation through a set of defined unit of value measures such as tokens. The rules for DAO membership and voting are normally based on consensus processes;
  • DCM Reciprocity: Reciprocity in this context means that the return on investment beyond a certain value7 is capped but not frozen by requiring reciprocity contributions to the DCM in the form of tangible or intangible value contributions that equal or exceed returns. Example: For a return of a 100 token investment in a DCM asset beyond say 10 tokens, an actor needs to make a value contribution after applying an exchange rate of token to utility token quantifiably equivalent to 1 utility or 1 reputation token for every token earned beyond 10 tokens.

As we will see below, this is in stark contrast to competitive markets.

Central to making the three zoned model operate is effective governance. There is an evolving literature on the governance of decentralized markets discussing issues and challenges creating inefficiencies and potentially additional costs as well as benefits and efficiencies.” (

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