Individuals vs Political Parties vs Organisations

Comparison of differents ways stewardship & delegated authority could be pushed into the community

Stewardship & Authority Options

How can stewardship & delegated authority be pushed towards the community for certain systems and processes that need to be developed and supported?


An individuals approach is where people are elected individually. They represent their own ideas and views. All elected individuals collectively handle the stewardship of the system of processes and have delegated authority to help maintain and improve the ecosystem.

Political parties

A political party brings together people with the same views and ideologies. Individuals are elected as individuals though represent the ideologies of the political party that they are member of.


An organisation approach means that a collection of people come together under an organisation. It would be the organisation that receive stewardship of the systems and processes and delegated authority that is under the control of the organisation members.


Election of representation

What is the process to be elected to have stewardship and delegated authority over a system or process?

  • Individuals - Individuals nominate themselves as a candidate for election.

  • Political parties - Individuals nominate themselves as a candidate for election and also would state they represent a political party that they are a member of. Political parties can often have requirements for how people can become eligible to become members and represent the party. Any factors such as this would add complexity for those that seek to represent a given party.

  • Organisations - An organisation being elected presents two scenarios to consider. The first is that the organisation may be required to pre-determine who is involved in the organisation before election so that it is clear which individuals in that organisation will have stewardship and delegated authority once elected. This has the issues of adding complexity by introducing a two step process where individuals are recruited or elected into organisations before the organisation can then be elected as a potential candidate. The second scenario is that the organisation is elected and then can introduce internal representatives at anytime. This has an issue of centralising power to groups by giving them unilateral control over who represents the organisation without any wider consent from the community.

Participation in decisions

  • Individuals - All elected individuals can optionally vote

  • Political parties - All elected individuals can optionally vote

  • Organisations - All individuals within the organisation can optionally vote. The consensus of the voters from the organisation would then becomes the vote from the organisation. Adding an internal vote to the process adds further complexity to the process of managing a given system or process.

Consensus approach

  • 1 person 1 vote - Each individual has one vote. Relevant for individuals or a political party representative approach.

  • 1 organisation 1 vote - Each organisation has one vote. If organisation votes are treated equally without any consideration for the number of individuals this can cause situations where a majority of people vote one way but the outcome does not reflect that consensus. As an example, consider organisation sizes of 40, 30 and 30 members. Votes are cast for and against with 40 - 0, 10 - 20 and 10 - 20. This means two organisations voted no and one yes. The result has an outcome of no even though 60 out of 100 participants voted yes. Another issue if there was a 1 organisation 1 vote approach is it creates an incentive to create more organisations to attain more control so preventative measures would be needed which increases the governance complexity.


Accountability is a key aspect for governance as any decision outcome will need to produce a receipt of who is accountable for any part of that decision or the information used leading up to that decision.

  • Individuals - Individuals voting would put their identity behind each vote they make which makes them accountable for the decisions they make.

  • Organisations - Individuals voting would put their identity behind each vote they make and it will be up to the organisation to ensure that information becomes public. One issue with organisations with accountability is the members vote can be obscured and more hidden under an organisation vote. An organisation vote also offers individuals more ways to pass over blame by blaming groupthink dynamic or internal pressures. This reduces accountability to the individual.

Paying elected representatives

How should elected representatives doing work for the ecosystem be paid?

  • Individual - Can be pulled from the protocol directly based upon the salary of the individual for their role.

  • Organisations - Total payment pulled from the protocol by the organisation. Increases complexity due to the need for governance structures in organisation to then distribute funds to individuals. Alternatively members could also still work under an organisation control structure but be paid directly as individuals instead via the protocol.

Issues around monopolies & centralisation

  • Individuals - Individuals who seek to be contributors in each cohort can change each and every funding round. An individual is not multi generational which prevents stagnation in who is involved in being a contributor over the longer term. Increasing efforts to encourage a diverse range of backgrounds and locations from candidates will help to improve the decentralisation of a given cohort of contributors.

  • Political parties - Political parties are often multi generational and would compete with other parties. Due to this the use of political parties can cause centralisation towards a handful of groups that most effectively represent an ideology or certain views. This can lead to difficulty in similar parties forming to compete with more well known and established parties.

  • Organisations - Organisations are often multi generational and would compete with each other for stewardship and delegated authority. Similar to political parties, organisations would also develop a brand in the community in how they help to govern the systems and process. This could get them repeatedly elected and lead to stagnation in changing the elected representatives that run those organisations.

Governance factors

  • Group think - Being part of a political party or organisation can increase the risk of group think when making decisions. This factor can lead to a reduction in independent critical thinking.

  • Voting outcome stagnation - One issue with political parties and organisations is it can cause stagnation in the voting outcome. Political parties and organisations can exist across multiple generations. This means that as they compete for stewardship and delegated authority there will be winners and losers. The winners can build an ongoing brand with familiar representation of certain ideologies, values or approaches. Stagnation in voting outcomes could lead to slower rates of change and prevention of new innovations from new entrants as they would face difficulty competing with existing well known groups in the ecosystem.

Cardano & Catalyst contributor considerations

Functional focussed

Catalyst and Cardano contributors are functional focussed contributors. They do not decide how ecosystem wide funding is distributed nor how Cardano operates. Their role is to support and improve the Catalyst and Cardano ecosystem based on the different roles that can help achieve that goal. Efforts from these contributors will focus on improving the automation and scalability of the system that pushes power to the edges. Catalyst and Cardano contributors would be considered a success in the future if it is able to reduce the complexity of governance decisions so that complexity is either removed, automated or simplified so that the ecosystem can scale and power is not placed into the hands of a subset of the community wherever possible.

Problems with organisations

Catalyst and Cardano contributors already represent what could be considered an organisation that have certain goals to support each ecosystem. Introducing more organisations under either of these approaches adds further complexity around stewardship and the delegated authority of those organisations, how people are added or removed, how people are paid within the organisation and how consensus is reached. This adds complexity and with certain rules and policies could also increase centralised power into small groups of people.

Problems with political parties

Catalyst and Cardano contributors do not have the responsibility of governing what the community can and cannot do nor how the Cardano treasury should be distributed. Instead their responsibility is to support, develop and grow the ecosystem. Contributors would have some governance responsibilities however any decisions that concern the community would be a public vote with the community involved. Contributors would naturally have their own internal governance decisions that they can make themselves. Political parties offer little benefit in this functional focussed structure. Political parties make sense when those being elected are going to make repeated complex decisions. How money is being distributed or how the population will be taxed are two common examples that nation states must handle. These complexities create a number of ideologies around how those governments should operate for the maximum benefit of the nation states population.

Advantages of individuals for stewardship and delegated authority

Electing a cohort of individuals to take on stewardship and delegated authority of certain systems and processes in the ecosystem provides the most simple approach to handing over some responsibility from IOHK over to the community. Electing individuals also prevents any potential stagnation of who has stewardship and delegated authority over the ecosystem. Each round of cohorts would focus on any individual candidates rather than well established groups.


  • Organisations add complexity and control risks - Using organisations for stewardship with delegated authority over supporting and developing parts of the ecosystem presents a number of issues surrounding how consensus is reached between organisations, how people are added or removed from those organisations and the increased potential for stagnation in control due to some organisations becoming well established.

  • Political parties are not necessary - There is little need for political parties to form around ideologies in the context of using contributors to support Catalyst or Cardano. These contributors are more functionally focussed on improving the ecosystem, have no control over the community and do not determine how Cardano treasury funding is distributed. Using political parties as a structural approach would introduce unnecessary complexity.

  • Elected individuals offers the most simple and effective approach - Electing a group of individuals offers the most simple and effective path to giving stewardship to elected members with delegated authority to support and improve the ecosystem. The process can be simple and clear for the community and can use a similar approach to how proposals are currently submitted.

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