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Smart contracts to enable sustainable business models. A case study

Francesca Dal Mas (Lincoln International Business School, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK)
Grazia Dicuonzo (Dipartimento di Economia, Management e Diritto dell'Impresa, Universita degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy)
Maurizio Massaro (Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari, Venice, Italy)
Vittorio Dell'Atti (Dipartimento di Economia, Management e Diritto dell'Impresa, Universita degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 9 July 2020

Issue publication date: 4 December 2020

942

Abstract

Purpose

The objective of this study is to deepen how blockchain technology through smart contracts can support the development of sustainable business models (SBMs). Particularly, the authors aim to determine the key elements enabling SBMs by applying smart contracts.

Design/methodology/approach

The research context focusses on the case study of SmartInsurance, which is a fictitious name for a start-up in the insurance sector and the real name of which is not to be revealed. The start-up was able to collect 18m euros in 80 s in a crowdfunding operation, using smart contracts and a revolutionary business model. Internal as well as external documents of different sources are analysed and coded to gather information about the company, its values and its business and what it pursues with employing blockchain technology.

Findings

The results show how smart contracts can reduce the costs of transactions, increase social trust and foster social proof behaviours that sustain the development of new SBMs.

Originality/value

This study contributes to both the transaction cost theory and social proof theory, showing how new technologies such as the blockchain can provide a fresh perspective to support the development of SBMs.

Keywords

Citation

Dal Mas, F., Dicuonzo, G., Massaro, M. and Dell'Atti, V. (2020), "Smart contracts to enable sustainable business models. A case study", Management Decision, Vol. 58 No. 8, pp. 1601-1619. https://doi.org/10.1108/MD-09-2019-1266

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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