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Understanding blockchain technology for future supply chains: a systematic literature review and research agenda

Yingli Wang (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Jeong Hugh Han (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Paul Beynon-Davies (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 1359-8546

Article publication date: 20 December 2018

Issue publication date: 4 March 2019




This paper aims to investigate the way in which blockchain technology is likely to influence future supply chain practices and policies.


A systematic review of both academic and practitioner literature was conducted. Multiple accounts of blockchain adoption within industry were also consulted to gain further insight.


While blockchain technologies remain in their infancy, they are gaining momentum within supply chains, trust being the predominant factor driving their adoption. The value of such technologies for supply chain management lies in four areas: extended visibility and traceability, supply chain digitalisation and disintermediation, improved data security and smart contracts. Several challenges and gaps in understanding and opportunities for further research are identified by this research. How a blockchain-enabled supply chain should be configured has also been explored from a design perspective.

Research limitations/implications

This systematic review focuses on the diffusion of blockchain technology within supply chains, and great care was taken in selecting search terms. However, the authors acknowledge that their choice of terms may have excluded certain blockchain articles from this review.

Practical implications

This paper offers valuable insight for supply chain practitioners into how blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt existing supply chain provisions as well as a number of challenges to its successful diffusion.

Social implications

The paper debates the poential social and economic impact brought by blockchain.


This paper is one of the first studies to examine the current state of blockchain diffusion within supply chains. It lays a firm foundation for future research.



Wang, Y., Han, J.H. and Beynon-Davies, P. (2019), "Understanding blockchain technology for future supply chains: a systematic literature review and research agenda", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 62-84.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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