Innovative Management of Common-Pool Resources by Smart Contracts

Prause Gunnar1,2,3, Hoffmann Thomas1
1. Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia)
2. Wismar Business School
3. Wismar University (Germany)
265 - 273
Cite as:
Prause, G., Hoffmann., T. (2020). Innovative Management of Common-Pool Resources by Smart Contracts. Marketing and Management of Innovations, 1, 265-275.


The access to common-pool resources, i.e. to resources in limited common property, are legally distributed in a far more diverse way than limited private property resources. In transportation, a critical case for common-pool resources appear in Green Transport Corridors (GTC), that has been coined by European Union as being «sustainable logistics solutions for cargo transportation’ with a shared pool of resources aiming for multimodal trans-shipment routes with a concentration of freight traffic between significant hubs». Although there are already existing implementations of GTC concepts, there are still a lot of open questions concerning GTC governance and ownership models hindering easy marketing of the GTC approach. This paper discusses how and to which extent smart contracts in combination with blockchain technology as innovative solutions are able to facilitate GTC governance and how smart contracts can be applied to provide legal certainty by managing and allocating distributed access to common-pool resources. Smart contracts can be considered as computerised transaction protocols for the execution of underlying legal contracts, and they do not only target reducing transaction costs by realising trackable and irreversible transactions through blockchain technology for distributed databases, but also show high potential to strengthen cooperative business structures and to facilitate the entrepreneurial collaboration of cross-organisational business processes. From a legal perspective, it is controversial whether the use of smart contracts to distribute access to resources in terms of both general common-pool resources. GTCs implies an added value automatically for legal certainty and fair balance among different forms and degrees of access granted to different members of the cooperative. In cases of incorrect performance, change of circumstances or unduly induced contracts smart contracts fall considerably short on the protection of weaker parties, which the paper illustrates at the example of GTCs to be a decisive detriment of the cooperative members. The paper analyses these potentials and risks of smart contracts for the case of GTCs and showcases from both business and legal perspective in terms of their potential as viable means of distributing access to common-pool resources comprising infrastructure.

common-pool resources, cooperative governance, blockchain, smart contracts, Green Transport Corridors.

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