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Blockchain as supply chain technology: considering transparency and security

Pei Xu (Systems and Technology, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)
Joonghee Lee (Systems and Technology, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)
James R. Barth (Finance and Economics, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)
Robert Glenn Richey (Supply Chain Management, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 20 January 2021

Issue publication date: 2 April 2021

3729

Abstract

Purpose

This paper discusses how the features of blockchain technology impact supply chain transparency through the lens of the information security triad (confidentiality, integrity and availability). Ultimately, propositions are developed to encourage future research in supply chain applications of blockchain technology.

Design/methodology/approach

Propositions are developed based on a synthesis of the information security and supply chain transparency literature. Findings from text mining of Twitter data and a discussion of three major blockchain use cases support the development of the propositions.

Findings

The authors note that confidentiality limits supply chain transparency, which causes tension between transparency and security. Integrity and availability promote supply chain transparency. Blockchain features can preserve security and increase transparency at the same time, despite the tension between confidentiality and transparency.

Research limitations/implications

The research was conducted at a time when most blockchain applications were still in pilot stages. The propositions developed should therefore be revisited as blockchain applications become more widely adopted and mature.

Originality/value

This study is among the first to examine the way blockchain technology eases the tension between supply chain transparency and security. Unlike other studies that have suggested only positive impacts of blockchain technology on transparency, this study demonstrates that blockchain features can influence transparency both positively and negatively.

Keywords

Citation

Xu, P., Lee, J., Barth, J.R. and Richey, R.G. (2021), "Blockchain as supply chain technology: considering transparency and security", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 51 No. 3, pp. 305-324. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPDLM-08-2019-0234

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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