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Unruly Innovation: Distributed Ledgers, Blockchains and the Protection of Transactional Rents

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Karen ElliottORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an online publication that has been published in its final definitive form by Technovation/Social Science Research Network (SSRN), 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


We present a new conceptual model of disruptive innovation and apply it to distributed ledger technology. Our analysis illustrates the new features of this technology and why there is an argument that, in several respects, the combinationof distributed ledger technology and cryptographically enabled contracts changes the economic framework within which individuals, firms and policy makers reside. This foundational level of disruption appears to have several new features, more notably a fundamental change in the game played by economic actors: the ability to self-deregulate. The paper provides a simple, but precise description of a series of complex interactions and illustrates the main points using a recent case study from the Distributed Autonomous Organizations of the Ethereum project.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Elliott K, Massacci F, Ngo C-N, Williams J

Publication type: Online Publication

Publication status: Published

Series Title:

Year: 2018

Access Year: 2018

Acceptance date: 22/12/2016

Publisher: Technovation/Social Science Research Network (SSRN)

Place Published: Rochester, NY, USA

Access Date: 29 October


DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.2888872

Notes: Ranked top 10 in SSRN listing for Innovation & Cyber law & Policy @3 March 2017. Posted: 22 Dec 2016.