Andrew Hall, Professor of Political Economy, is recruiting a Research Fellow to study the design of online platforms and communities, decentralized governance, and web3.
The work will focus on how to design and build the online platforms, communities, and organizations of the future to make them more socially legitimate and more productive. We will seek to understand the needs of various stakeholder groups—like users, creators, sellers, developers, employees, and customers—and study whether and how they might take part in collective governance, making some of the decisions that shape how organizations operate, leading to more inclusive and more aligned outcomes.
This is particularly important for making progress on critical governance questions that will determine the future of the internet and technology, like:
• Who should decide how algorithms boost or down-rank different kinds of content from different sources?
• Who should decide the rules governing what people are allowed to say, to sell, to transact, what kinds of apps are allowed, etc. on platforms? Who should enforce violations of these rules? Who should adjudicate disputes over these enforcement decisions?
• How can groups of people online decide how to spend shared funds and how to manage jointly owned assets?
• Who should have the power to set or change fee structures that divide revenue between sellers and a platform, developers and a platform, creators and a platform, etc?
While there is considerable enthusiasm around the idea of decentralizing the governance of many types of organizations, it is not clear whether or how it can work in practice. It is hard to get many people to want to participate in democratic processes online, it is hard to get people informed about complex issues, and it is hard to align the incentives of potential voters and a platform’s workforce.
To study these challenges, we will gather data on the governance of decentralized organizations in web3, partner with organizations to implement different types of governance structures and measure outcomes, run surveys of relevant stakeholder groups, and perform other types of empirical and theoretical research—all with the goal of designing effective “constitutions” for decentralized organizations that specify who hold what powers and how collective decisions are made. The resulting research will be highly relevant to ongoing private and public sector work around how best to structure organizations and design products with social legitimacy and fairness in mind.
The pre-doctoral fellow will work closely with Professor Hall and other collaborators to read relevant literature, study various online communities, gather data, run analyses, and publish research in peer reviewed journals.
A bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Ideal candidates have a background in computer science and economics/political economy and have experience in econometric and statistical methods and software. Experience with smart contracts and blockchain data tools like Dune, The Graph, etc is a major plus but not strictly required. Coursework in game theory, elections, and/or political economy is also a plus.
More important than their technical skills, successful candidates will be highly conscientious, detail-oriented, and professional. Past experience outside of the academy in a real world work setting of any kind (does not need to have any relationship to academia at all) is a plus.
To apply, please send the following materials by November 15 to Professor Hall’s faculty assistant, Josephine Choki Yan at email@example.com, with the subject line “Professor Hall Dedicated Research Fellow”.
The required materials are:
• Cover letter describing your interest in the position, your familiarity with programming languages (e.g., Stata, R, MATLAB, Python, and any others), your prior experience as a research assistant and/or with independent research projects.
• An up-to-date transcript (unofficial or official).
• The names and contact details of two reference letter writers.
Short-listed applicants will be contacted in early December to complete a technical exercise and a remote interview.