Rawabi and the Case for Cooperative Governance

By Jidy Chitta

Startup Societies Foundation

As the startup societies movement has matured a few core tenets have emerged to explain the value of creating startup societies to the broader world. The concept of competitive governance is one of those tenets. In a nutshell, the theory of competitive governance advocates for a world where governments compete for citizens in a similar fashion that companies compete for customers.

This governance-as-a-service market would then incentivized governments to innovate more solutions to their citizens’ problems. In 2011, Patri Friedman explained that “…a startup sector for government means more competition, more new ideas, [which] means things will eventually improve in the current large providers (existing countries).”

Describing government as a dated industry ripe for disruption is useful for catalyzing ideas for innovative alternatives. However, framing startup societies as rivals to existing countries does not direct the next iteration of experiments to the most pragmatic path forward and can alienate the industries most important allies: existing countries.

Surveying the industry as a whole indicates that a market of collaborative startup societies will be the main driver of growth. Framing opportunities this way opens up new possibilities to develop solutions to difficult problems around the world. While there are many examples that demonstrate this point, the Rawabi project is a particularly inspiring case to explore.


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