Impact of blockchain on sustainable supply chain practices : A study on blockchain technology’s benefits and current barriers in sustainable SCM

University essay from Jönköping University

Abstract: Background: The increasing supply chain complexity has made verification of sustainable practices a challenging objective to achieve. Blockchain has been discussed as a potential solution to improve several aspects of sustainable supply chain management (SSCM), as traceability and proof of origin for products are increasingly demanded by consumers. This emerging technology was initially developed as a secure distributed ledger for the cryptocurrency sector but has since been implemented in various industries from food to healthcare and logistics. Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to analyze how blockchain technology can facilitate more transparent sustainable supply chain practices. Two research questions are answered regarding the current barriers and main benefits in the consumer product sector. Method: This thesis takes a qualitative approach to investigate how blockchain can generate more transparent supply chains from a social and environmental perspective. As a multi-case study, triangulation is achieved by analyzing blockchain’s potential to improve transparency and traceability from different viewpoints. Interviews were conducted with consumer product companies to understand current sustainability challenges and with blockchain experts to gain further insight into blockchain’s potential to solve these issues. By gathering data from various perspectives, this thesis takes an exploratory approach combined with a qualitative approach in accordance with the constructional position. Conclusion: This thesis contributes to the current state of blockchain awareness by identifying and distinctively naming the practical challenges. Companies can gain an increased understanding of blockchain and its current challenges in SSCM, regardless of their industry. By knowing which practical challenges blockchain can solve, their willingness to implement the technology can be heightened. The current barriers are presented to emphasize that the knowledge about blockchain needs to be improved before widespread adoption of blockchain is possible. Four practical challenges for consumer product companies were identified: trustworthy information, geographical distance, supply chain complexity, and tracking.

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