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Working Paper Series

Five Easy Pieces: Case Studies of Entrepreneurs Who Organized Private Communities for a Public Purpo


  • Stephen M. Maurer, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley


  • Goldman School of Public Policy Working Paper: GSPP10-011 (November 2010)


Many observers are skeptical of claims that private entrepreneurs can perform traditional governmental functions like supporting basic research, keeping WMD away from terrorists, or protecting public health. This article presents five recent counterexamples. These include initiatives designed to establish new health and safety standards in nanotechnology; build a central repository for worldwide mutations data; use on-line volunteers to find cures for tuberculosis; and require biotech companies to screen customer orders for products that can be used to make weapons. In principle, many more initiatives are both possible and desirable. Historically, however, government done little to promote private initiatives and sometimes destabilized them. The article suggests strategies for this overcoming this problem.

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Last updated on 06/07/2013