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Why, where and how are organizations using blockchain in their supply chains? Motivations, application areas and contingency factors

Wafaa A.H. Ahmed (Nottingham University Business School, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Bart L. MacCarthy (Nottingham University Business School, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Horst Treiblmaier (School of International Management, Modul University Vienna, Vienna, Austria)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 7 November 2022

Issue publication date: 10 November 2022




Blockchain is increasingly being considered for applications in operations and supply chain management. However, evidence from practice is still scarce on why, where and how organizations seek to apply the technology in the supply chain across different industries. The study develops a comprehensive framework to enhance understanding of the application areas of blockchain technology in the supply chain, as well as organizations' motivations in seeking blockchain solutions and relevant contingency factors influencing applications.


The authors investigate 50 use cases of blockchain applications in the supply chain, covering six industries. Contingency theory is applied in conducting a qualitative textual and correlation analysis to identify and compare blockchain adoption motivations, application areas and contingency factors across different industries.


The analysis develops an evidence-based framework that captures ten principal motivations in seeking blockchain solutions, three main blockchain application areas along with important application sub-categories and five clusters of contingency factors that influence blockchain deployment and its uses in different industrial sectors.

Research limitations/implications

The study expands the limited cross-sectoral research on blockchain applications and motivations in the supply chain. Using contingency theory, it presents a comprehensive framework that captures the drivers and factors relating to blockchain adoption in the supply chain in a nomological network. The study lays the foundation for further theoretical perspectives and empirical research to investigate relevant sectoral characteristics and their importance for different types of blockchain application in the supply chain.

Practical implications

The study informs practitioners about potential supply chain application areas that can be enhanced through blockchain technology, taking account of the specific characteristics of their products, business and manufacturing processes, supply network configurations, industry standards, regulations and market demand.


The study is the first to provide cross-sectoral evidence on the relevance of organizations' motivations and numerous contingency factors on blockchain application areas in the supply chain.



Ahmed, W.A.H., MacCarthy, B.L. and Treiblmaier, H. (2022), "Why, where and how are organizations using blockchain in their supply chains? Motivations, application areas and contingency factors", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 42 No. 12, pp. 1995-2028.



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