From their origins in cryptocurrencies, blockchains are emerging as an increasingly important organizational phenomenon. Blockchain is a software protocol allowing secure transfer of unique instances of value over the internet, without needing to rely on trusted intermediaries. It is analogous to a digital ledger that maintains a distributed, tamper-evident log of sequenced transactions, which are secured by a peer-to-peer network of autonomous computer nodes. The nodes collectively update the ledger, validate transactions and constantly monitor its integrity. By enabling a secure transfer of value between entities that do not necessarily know or trust each other, blockchains are essentially creating a new way of organizing economic transactions. In an enterprise setting, blockchain can be thought of as a shared information infrastructure, able to facilitate multi-party collaboration across organizational boundaries.
This thesis explores the potential of enterprise blockchain technology and its implications for inter-organizational relationships (IORs) focusing particularly on inter-organizational management accounting and control practices. IORs are both an interesting and intricate field of research. They can be defined as voluntary collaborative arrangements between legally autonomous organizations and can involve sharing of information, joint development of products and services, as well as a number of other partner contributions in terms of technology, capital, or firm-specific assets. Due to its multi-party nature, and its ability to distribute control among independent entities, blockchain could have a profound impact on the ways IORs are structured, potentially challenging some of the assumptions found in contemporary IOR literature.