This research considers the role of technology in shaping the moral foundations of emerging digital markets. Through an inductive process study, we examine the development of the market for genomic (DNA) data—an emergent digital market plagued by moral conflicts over privacy and ownership. Drawing on interview, archival, and observational data, we analyze how rules for exchanging genomic data emerged, and how entrepreneurial technology-development moves influenced those rules. Our findings reveal a four-step process, which we call the technological entrainment of moral issues, involving the progressive synchronization of framings, technical policies, technologies (software), exchange platforms, and market participant behaviors. This process baked particular moral stances on privacy and ownership into technological designs, which then dictated the rules market participants were required to follow to engage in exchange. We conclude that when markets are digital, technology processes central to exchange end up controlling many moral aspects of exchange. Our study contributes to theories of morally contentious markets and cultural or institutional entrepreneurship by illuminating how those theories can incorporate material (not only symbolic) aspects of technology processes and better explain the emerging moral order within the rapidly expanding realm of digital markets.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Business and International Management
- Business, Management and Accounting(all)
- Strategy and Management
- Management of Technology and Innovation