LEANZ received 24 entries to the essay competition in 2020, a record number of entries. The standard at the top end of the submissions was very high.

The winning entry was Nathan Tse for his essay Decentralised Autonomous Organisations and the Corporate Form. This essay examined the role of decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) and asked whether DAOs really improve the corporate form. DAOs ostensibly eliminate agency costs due to the absence of a board of directors, automated governance mechanisms and transparency provided by the blockchain upon which the DAO is launched. Nathan’s analysis suggested several practical and legal obstacles that technological advancements and improved engineering must overcome before DAOs become a viable, mainstream organisational structure. Balancing the inevitable improvement in technology against these significant obstacles, this article predicts an incremental integration of DAOs into society through a hybrid approach, involving interim legal solutions and varying degrees of automation and decentralisation.

Runner up was Chanelle Duley, Democracy or Technocracy?: Policy Delegation and Populism? This paper identifies the incentives faced by elected and appointed policymakers and compares the efficiency of each policymaker’s performance under such incentives.

With thanks to Bryce Wilkinson, Lew Evans, George Barker and Bronwyn Howell for acting as judges.