Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 April 2022
The supply of human organs for transplantation might seem an unlikely place to begin thinking about entrepreneurship. After all, there is no production market for human organs. With the surprising exception of Iran, legal rules around the world make the sale of human organs for transplantation a criminal offense. Moreover, at first blush the social organization of the organ supply and the transplant system more generally seem quite far removed from the world of entrepreneurial innovation. In general, organ transplants are strongly regulated, allocation rules are governed mostly by medical criteria rather than supply and demand, and most people’s conception of the system’s organizing principle is based on an understanding of organ donation as a special, even sacred, sort of gift – the “gift of life.” The market seems a long way off. While proposals for creating transplant markets have been made periodically since the 1980s, the casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that entrepreneurship was of little conceptual use in understanding the transplant field, and vice versa.