How the Blockchain Enables and Constrains Supply Chain Performance

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand the enabling and constraining roles of blockchain technology (BCT) in managerial work practices and conceptualise the technology–performance relationship in supply chain management (SCM).
Design/methodology/approach: A structured literature review and a theory-driven approach are used. A set of propositions are developed, suggesting how the use of BCT in supply chains can be understood to simultaneously enable and constrain SCM and performance.
Findings: The analysis identifies four enabling and three constraining blockchain identities to explain how the technology either “facilitates” or “impedes” SCM and supply chain performance. Traceability, which emanates from its ability to provide data immutability, ranks highly as a core innovation of the technology. The blockchain is mainly seen as an opportunity to exploit existing supply chain resources and competencies.
Research limitations/implications: One limitation of the research is its conceptual nature. Future research should test the developed propositions empirically. Further research should focus on BCT as an opportunity to explore and as a relationship-building technology. More research is also needed focussing on the complex and simultaneous enabling and constraining effects of BCT in supply chains.
Originality/value: The paper shows the important and complex Janus-faced implications of embedding BCT in supply chains and demonstrates how organisational theory can be applied to explore the relationship between blockchain and SCM.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)376-397
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Supply chain performance
  • Supply chain management
  • Blockchain technology
  • Distributed computing
  • Enabling and constraining effects
  • Performance-related implications

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