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The Ethereum blockchain is hosting the next generation of financial services platforms, which require novel governance approaches to organize and engage platform participants. In this paper, we explore how the choice of decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms to distribute decision rights to their participants in the form of tokens impacts the roles of these participants before and after platform launch. Relying on insights from seven of the largest DeFi platforms and utilizing a grounded theory approach. we find that the roles of all platform participants significantly change post-launch. Users become platform owners, third-party complementors contribute more actively to the platform’s success, and the initial platform owners give up ownership in exchange for a healthier platform ecosystem and ideological fulfillment. Based on our analysis, we seek to extend our understanding of governance on blockchain-based platforms by emphasizing the changing roles of platform participants over time and the distribution of power from owners to users.



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