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The market, the regulator, and the government: Making a blockchain ecosystem in the Netherlands

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 November 2023

Inês Faria*
University of Lisbon, Portugal
Corresponding author: Inês Faria, CSG/SOCIUS-ISEG, University of Lisbon, Rua Miguel Lupi 20, 1249-078 Lisbon, Portugal. Email:
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This article presents a socio-anthropological analysis of the formation of a business ecosystem around blockchain technology in the Netherlands, within the broader context of the European Union and the digital single market. I argue that while reproducing widespread global models of business group and network formation, the relations created by these networks also reveal particularities of local business and governance cultures. Such particularities emerge from the pragmatics of collaboration and competitive market relationships, as well as legal heterogeneity and plans for legal harmonisation in digital innovation and governance in Europe. They also emerge from the challenges and transformations that current experimentation cultures for digital innovation bring to the interactions between market players, regulators, and government. These challenges and transformations materialise in increasingly informal connections and strategies for experimental legitimisation, which occur in parallel to more formal and traditional forms of regulatory and governmental interaction. The article is based on ethnographic fieldwork in the Netherlands and in online terrains, including observation periods and 32 interviews with entrepreneurial project teams, as well as with individuals involved in financial incumbents’ innovation labs.

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