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Blockchain as a governance mechanism for tackling dark side effects in interorganizational relationships

Debi P. Mishra (School of Management, Binghamton University-State University of New York, Binghamton, New York, USA)
Rasleen K. Kukreja (School of Management, Binghamton University-State University of New York, Binghamton, New York, USA)
Arun S. Mishra (Smeal College of Business, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 8 February 2021

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate how the emerging blockchain technology can tackle dark side or dysfunctional effects at different stages of the interorganizational relationship life cycle. The rationale for this study stems from the somewhat paradoxical causes of dysfunctional effects. In particular, concepts such as trust and cooperation that typically result in positive relationship outcomes may also lead to negative effects under certain conditions. This contradiction creates a governance headache for organizations in their quest for initiating, developing, maintaining and enhancing efficient interorganizational relationships.

Design/methodology/approach

The study draws upon multiple organizational theories (agency, signaling, transaction cost, population ecology, institutional) and develops a conceptual understanding of how blockchain can serve as a safeguard for tackling dark side effects in interorganizational relationships. Primarily, the paper outlines a set of research propositions that provides a platform for developing an actionable managerial decision framework. In addition, the authors conduct an automated textual analysis of qualitative blockchain expert opinion using the ALCESTE software and uncover salient themes about blockchain governance.

Findings

The blockchain ledger distributes trust among participants and keeps dark side effects at bay. Hence, blockchain can transform conventional approaches for handling dark side effects into value creating activities. The results of an automated textual analysis on a corpus of expert opinions provides preliminary support for several aspects of blockchain governance. Furthermore, the study articulates a decision framework that managers can use for optimal relationship governance and identifies several areas for future research.

Research limitations/implications

This paper is conceptual in nature and draws upon multiple theoretical perspectives to outline a set of research propositions. Thus, lack of empirical testing is a current limitation. However, the findings from an automated textual analysis of expert opinions provide exploratory but encouraging support for the power of blockchain to tackle dark side effects.

Practical implications

Managers can deploy blockchain creatively while selecting interorganizational relationship partners. For example, provenance issues in organizations’ supply chains can be efficiently managed using blockchain. Likewise, organizations may also create efficient learning around blockchain to gain efficiencies in relationship management.

Originality/value

Conventional approaches for managing dark side effects in interorganizational relationships rely mainly on ex post governance strategies. By contrast, this paper supplements the extant approach by discussing ex ante strategies that can be deployed at different stages of the interorganizational relationship cycle, e.g. initiation, maintenance/development and termination to better address dark side effects.

Keywords

Citation

Mishra, D.P., Kukreja, R.K. and Mishra, A.S. (2021), "Blockchain as a governance mechanism for tackling dark side effects in interorganizational relationships", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOA-08-2020-2362

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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