Blockchain Technology in the Shipping Industry

Christine Sophie Rosager Santon

Student thesis: Master thesis


With the continuous growth of global trade, and more than 80% of this trade being transported by sea, shipping supply chains are increasingly both vital and complex. Despite this, the industry suffers from inconsistent flows of information due to flawed and outdated IT applications and information overlaps. After experiencing the inadequacy first hand, Maersk and IBM began a collaboration in order to create an industry-wide solution: A permissioned platform, TradeLens, using blockchain technology to ensure security, trustworthiness and real-time visibility. However, although Blockchain technology seems to be the solution the shipping industry has been waiting for, supply chain partners may be reluctant to join the platform. What is of interest in this study are the ways in which supply chain partners will benefit from the implementation of blockchain technology. More specifically, in what ways can the implementation of blockchain technology improve Agility, Adaptation and Alignment within shipping supply chains, create a synergy between the three, and thereby a sustainable competitive advantage? In order to answer this question, the study focused on the collaboration between Maersk and IBM and data was collected from secondary data sources in the form of online newspaper articles, as well as from interviews with relevant actors within the industry. The data was analyzed using the Triple-A framework as coding themes. There seemed to be a general consensus in the data, that the implementation of blockchain technology can in actual fact improve Agility, Adaptation and Alignment and create the necessary synergy to provide supply chain partners with a sustainable competitive advantage. However, there were certain elements that need to be in place. The most important is that each supply chain partner has the right technology in place. Also, a large majority of supply chain partners need to be onboard. Standardization and interoperability are vital, which, together with proof that the technology is viable, will help create the trust necessary for supply chain partners to move away from conventional IT and over to blockchain technology.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages115
SupervisorsSusana BorrĂ¡s