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Understanding the challenges of blockchain technology adoption: evidence from China’s developing carbon markets

Xing Chen (Business School, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)
Ashley D. Lloyd (Business School, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 16 January 2024




Blockchain is a disruptive technology that has matured to deliver robust, global, IT systems, yet adoption lags predictions. The authors explore barriers to adoption in the context of a global challenge with multiple stakeholders: integration of carbon markets. Going beyond the dominant economic-rationalistic paradigm of information system (IS) innovation adoption, the authors reduce pro-innovation bias and broaden inter-organizational scope by using technological frames theory to capture the cognitive framing of the challenges perceived within the world’s largest carbon emitter: China.


Semi-structured interviews with 15 key experts representing three communities in China’s carbon markets: IT experts in carbon markets; carbon market experts with conceptual knowledge of blockchain and carbon market experts with practical blockchain experience.


Perceived technical challenges were found to be the least significant in explaining adoption. Significant challenges in five areas: social, political legal and policy (PLP), data, organizational and managerial (OM) and economic, with PLP and OM given most weight. Mapping to frames developed to encompass these challenges: nature of technology, strategic use of technology and technology readiness resolved frame incongruence that, in the case explored, did not lead to rejection of blockchain, but a decision to defer investment, increase the scope of analysis and delay the adoption decision.


Increases scope and resolution of IS adoption research. Technological frames theory moves from predominant economic-rational models to a social cognitive perspective. Broadens understanding of blockchain adoption in a context combining the world’s most carbon emissions with ownership of most blockchain patents, detailing socio-technical challenges and delivering practical guidance for policymakers and practitioners.



Chen, X. and Lloyd, A.D. (2024), "Understanding the challenges of blockchain technology adoption: evidence from China’s developing carbon markets", Information Technology & People, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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