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Investigating the influence of organizational factors on blockchain adoption: An innovation theory perspective

Trevor Clohessy (Department of Enterprise and Technology, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway, Ireland)
Thomas Acton (School of Business and Economics, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 27 June 2019

Issue publication date: 18 September 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Blockchain possesses the potential to disrupt and reshape a plethora of industries in the next decade. However, blockchain adoption rates in technology developed countries, such as Ireland, are relatively low. Motivated by blockchain’s potential to transform sociotechnical systems, the lack of systematic inquiry pertaining to blockchain studies from an information system perspective, the authors propose the following research question: “How do organizational factors influence blockchain adoption in organizations based in a developed country?” Specifically, the purpose of this paper is to elucidate the impact of organizational factors on the adoption of blockchain and the adoption of blockchain in companies based in Ireland.

Design/methodology/approach

A comprehensive literature review was conducted, and the methods of qualitative content analysis were used to identify the most important technology–organization–environment (TOE) blockchain adoption factors. Organizational factors are often viewed as the most significant determinants of IT innovation adoption in organizations. Consequently, using a multiple-case study of 20 companies based in Ireland, the authors investigate how the top three organizational factors identified from the blockchain literature affected these companies decision to adopt or not adopt blockchain.

Findings

The literature review on blockchain adoption identified specific technological, organizational and environmental factors. Furthermore, the case study findings identified three patterns: top management support and organizational readiness are enablers for blockchain adoption, and large companies are more likely to adopt blockchain than small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The authors explain these patterns by examining the nature of blockchain and the characteristics of Ireland as a developed country. Practical and scientific contributions are also presented.

Research limitations/implications

This study makes several important scientific contributions. First, the findings revealed that top management support and organizational readiness are significant enablers of blockchain adoption. Ireland is recognized as a technology developed country; however, the findings in relation to top management support contradict existing IT adoption literature pertaining to developed countries. Second, previous IT innovation adoption literature suggests that organizations size has a positive influence on a company’s IT innovation adoption process. This study demonstrates that large organizations are more likely to not only adopt blockchain but are also more likely to conduct increased levels of blockchain research and development activities. Finally, and most significantly, the authors identified several patterns, which relate specifically to Ireland as a developed country that influenced the findings. These findings could hold particular relevance to governments and organizations of other developed countries in terms of accelerating blockchain adoption.

Practical implications

The findings about the low level of blockchain awareness and the lack of information pertaining to viable business use cases indicate that the Irish government could play a more significant role in promoting the benefits of blockchain technologies. Further, the findings could also encourage IT providers to formulate enhanced strategies aimed at disseminating information pertaining to blockchain technologies. Second, the positive influence of top management support and organizational readiness, particularly about core competencies, on blockchain adoption suggests that equipping managers with the requisite knowledge and skills will be crucial in adopting these IT innovations. Finally, organizations who adopted blockchain used cloud-based blockchain platforms and tools to overcome the constraints of their initial low levels of organizational readiness.

Originality/value

This is one of the first studies to identify specific TOE blockchain adoption factors. Further, the authors examine how the three most identified organizational adoption factors impact organizations decisions to adopt blockchain. Finally, the authors discuss how the resulting three patterns identified by examining the nature of blockchain and the characteristics of Ireland as a technology developed country.

Keywords

Citation

Clohessy, T. and Acton, T. (2019), "Investigating the influence of organizational factors on blockchain adoption: An innovation theory perspective", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 119 No. 7, pp. 1457-1491. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMDS-08-2018-0365

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited