The notion of inverse infrastructures – that is, bottom-up, user-driven, self-organizing networks – gives us a fresh perspective on the omnipresent infrastructure systems that support our economy and structure our way of living. This fascinating book considers the emergence of inverse infrastructures as a new phenomenon that will have a vast impact on consumers, industry and policy. Using a wide range of theories, from institutional economics to complex adaptive systems, it explores the mechanisms and incentives for the rise of these alternatives to large-scale infrastructures and points to their potential disruptive effect on conventional markets and governance models.
The approach in this unique book challenges the existing literature on infrastructures, which primarily focuses on large technical systems (LTSs). In contrast, this study highlights unprecedented developments, analyzing the differences and complementarity between LTSs and inverse infrastructures. It illustrates that even large infrastructures need not require a blueprint design or top-down and centralized control to run efficiently. The expert contributors draw upon a captivating and wide-ranging set of case studies, including: Wikipedia, wind energy cooperatives, Wireless Leiden, rural telecom in developing countries, local radio and television distribution, the collection of waste paper, syngas infrastructure design, and e-government projects. The book discusses the feasibility of temporary infrastructures and unprecedented ownership arrangements, and concludes that inverse networks represent a critical transformation of the accepted model of infrastructure development.
Laying a foundation for future research in the area and suggesting ways to bridge the gap between policy and practice, this path-breaking book will prove a riveting read for academics, students and researchers across a number of disciplines including economics, business, management, innovation, and technology and policy studies.