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Unblocking the chain – findings from an executive workshop on blockchain in the supply chain

Remko van Hoek (Department of Supply Chain Management, Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA)

Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 1359-8546

Publication date: 27 June 2019

Abstract

Purpose

There is a lot of interest in blockchain in the supply chain and several papers call it a disruptive technology. Existing research, however, is mostly conceptual and focused on use-case development and early pilots. This paper aims to report the findings from a workshop with managers aimed at empirically exploring what adoption rates and focus areas are for blockchain in the supply chain, what drives blockchain in the supply chain applications and what barriers are to the implementation of blockchain in the supply chain.

Design/methodology/approach

A workshop with managers was organized to empirically explore blockchain adoption levels and focus areas in the supply chain, as well as drivers and barriers of implementation.

Findings

Workshop participants reported that adoption of blockchain in the supply chain today is very limited but actively considered by many. Drivers for this consideration include achieving greater transparency and visibility, as well as, improving processes and reducing costs. Participants identify many barriers, including a lack of understanding of costs and benefits of blockchain in the supply chain. Interestingly, participants report less concern about the feasibility of the technology implying managerial consideration if progressing beyond the technology and into the potential adoption of it. As a result, participants may be moving beyond the hype surrounding blockchain and giving consideration to the many remaining questions. A working technology does not yet mean that there is a feasible supply chain adoption. As a result, it may be too early to tell whether blockchain will be a disruptive technology. This paper identifies several fruitful areas for further consideration by management and in research.

Originality/value

As there is little empirical research on blockchain in the supply chain, this paper moves beyond use-case development and the exploration of pilot cases and studies how companies may consider supply chain adoption beyond the pilot and the early development of blockchain. Although only offering an initial exploration, this paper uncovers progress being reported in industry and many areas where further consideration and research can help advance thinking and practice.

Keywords

Citation

van Hoek, R. (2019), "Unblocking the chain – findings from an executive workshop on blockchain in the supply chain", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 255-261. https://doi.org/10.1108/SCM-11-2018-0383

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited