A Framing Contest Between Institutional Actors on Crypto-Asset Policymaking in the EU

Nina Frausing

Research output: Book/ReportPhD thesis

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The emergence of Bitcoin in 2009 sparked a revolution in the realm of crypto-assets, leading to the creation of a variety of novel innovations within financial services. Today, crypto-assets have collectively reached a market capitalization exceeding $2 trillion. Alongside technological advancements, interpretations of crypto-assets vary widely, ranging from considering them as money and payment systems to disruptive forces challenging traditional financial and regulatory frameworks. The regulatory landscape surrounding crypto-assets remains uncertain, prompting debates on the effectiveness of existing regulations in light of digitalization. Policy debates occur on national and supranational levels, where the emerging field of crypto-assets, offering a variety of novel financial services, also engage in policy work to address the increasing regulatory uncertainty arising across Europe. While the ‘Markets-in-Crypto-Assets’ (MiCA) regulation highlights Europe’s response to the developments of crypto-assets, understanding the work that went into the policymaking process remains unexplored.
By integrating institutional work theory with an interdisciplinary interactive framing perspective, this case study examines how institutional actors construct meaning and shape policymaking surrounding crypto-assets. Through empirical analysis of an EU working group, this dissertation unfolds a process of institutional meaning making that spans three distinct periods: divergence, intensification, and stabilization. The analysis reveals how institutional actors engage in frame negotiations, developing and shifting frames due to interpretive shifts and environmental triggers. Six frames and two frame shifts are identified, reflecting the evolution of framing within the policymaking context. Moreover, the research reveals four framing mechanisms employed by the working group in their efforts to shape and influence policymaking outcomes.
The findings of this research contribute to theory and practice by unravelling the complex search for policy action concerning emerging disruptive digital innovations. The main theoretical contribution to the Information Systems (IS) research domain on crypto-assets is a process model that integrates the evolution of framing, technological advancements, and the micro-mobilizing actions of institutional actors in shaping institutions and technological trajectories. The model illustrates the origin and emergence of frames, their evolution due to frame shifts, and their persistence or dissolution over time and across different periods of institutional meaning and decision-making. In addition, the findings contribute to theoretical advancements in institutional work theory and framing processes, providing insights into the negotiation strategies of institutional actors.
Furthermore, this research extends beyond theoretical contributions to offer practical insights into the implications of policy on crypto-asset developments. Specifically, the acceleration of policymaking observed underscores the challenges posed by regulatory responses to technological innovation and the expertise asymmetry of policymakers. Additionally, the diversification, innovation, and bifurcation of the payment landscape and future considerations of the design of digital monetary strategies contribute to further discussions of the regulation of crypto-assets in the EU.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School [Phd]
Number of pages185
ISBN (Print)9788775682652
ISBN (Electronic)9788775682669
Publication statusPublished - 2024
SeriesPhD Series

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