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Institutional Isomorphism in Web3: Same Same but Different?

Tara Merk (Panthéon-Assas University Paris ii, France)
Rolf Hoefer (Cultur3, France)

Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy

ISBN: 978-1-83549-601-5, eISBN: 978-1-83549-600-8

Publication date: 1 July 2024


Like an online carnival, Web3 aims to turn the internet’s social order upside down. Unlike a carnival, Web3 wants to be more than a weeklong party and morph into a legitimate substitute for the internet’s status quo. Web3’s secret sauce for upheaval is decentralized, permissionless technologies, in particular blockchain technologies. In this exploratory paper, we draw on the concept of institutional isomorphism to muse about Web3’s future and to highlight the inherent tension between striving to be different from Web2 yet wanting to become more legitimate. We argue that technical merits are hardly enough to realize Web3’s high aspirations. Regulatory pressures, rampant uncertainty, and the professional norms of Web3 participants drive the space to adopt many of the organizational structures and practices that it aims to displace. To maintain divergence from Web2, despite isomorphic pressures, we suggest that it is important to increase the overall diversity of people in Web3, to double down on the value of decentralization, and to reaffirm Web3’s commitment to creatively re-imagine various institutional arrangements.



Merk, T. and Hoefer, R. (2024), "Institutional Isomorphism in Web3: Same Same but Different?", DuPont, Q., Kavanagh, D. and Dylan-Ennis, P. (Ed.) Defining Web3: A Guide to the New Cultural Economy (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 89), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 75-86.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024 Tara Merk and Rolf Hoefer