Contribution Economy is the website for the Research Project on “The Economics of Knowledge Contribution and Distribution.” This project is housed at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and is administered by Professors Joshua Gans (Univ of Toronto) and Fiona Murray (MIT). In 2011, we received a three year, $976,171 grant from the Sloan Foundation for the projects activities.

Project Goal

The project is to understand the economic drivers of knowledge contribution and the distribution of that knowledge. Two classes of phenomena motivate our study: movements for the free provision of knowledge and information and the growing participation of individuals in creative activities not dominated by the promise of monetary reward. The proposed program will focus on research designed to generate understanding the economic drivers of scientific contributions and to analyze the impact of digitization on knowledge contribution.


Our objectives are: (i) to develop policy-relevant research and to disseminate that research to policy-makers; (ii) to establish an overarching approach to understanding the organization of the provision of public goods under distinctive organizational settings and (iii) to establish a research community with a distinct identity whose regular interactions encourage high quality, theoretically consistent research with frameworks for impactful empirical analyses. Finally, we aim to set a research foundation leading to the eventual establishment of digital infrastructure to facilitate knowledge access, scientific rewards and the promotion of creative activity combining monetary and non-monetary incentives.

Proposed Activities

The program proposed here is devoted to funding and promoting research across a range of questions focussed on the economics of knowledge contribution and distribution. This research will be facilitated by research meetings between academics interested in the field, and then distributed by means a significant public Summit to bring together researchers in social science and policy makers as well as dissemination through various online tools.

For a longer description of the program’s scope please click here.