Blockchain Technology in Interorganizational Collaboration

The term ‘Blockchain Technology’ is currently a buzzword and is not always clearly defined. Different stakeholders have a different understanding of what it is and how it can be applied for fostering and enhancing the collaboration within business networks and ecosystems. Currently, we would define ‘blockchain’ as a multi-party consensus system that allows multiple (distrusting) parties to reach and maintain an agreement on replicated, shared and synchronized data in an adversarial environment without having to rely on a central trusted party.

From our previous research and exchange with experts, we have identified so far four main implications of blockchain technology for interorganizational collaboration:

1) Transparency: Public data and information which are accessible at all times and displayed in real-time on a distributed ledger increase transparency and information availability within interorganizational collaborations.

2) Trust: Blockchain technology can replace intermediaries, which implies that the technology creates the confidence that data is correct and synchronized at all times. Blockchain technology thus creates a single point of truth for the entire interorganizational network without relying on a trusted third party.

3) Security: The data and smart contracts stored on a blockchain cannot be changed or manipulated without consensus among the participants. A single point of failure can be avoided.

4) Automation: Interorganizational processes such as payments, decision-making, identification, data or document transfers can be automated via smart contracts.

Our vision is to deepen the knowledge and expertise about the potential of the Blockchain technology in interorganizational collaboration together with interested companies and research institutes from the Data Innovation Alliance. Every company and industry should understand how this technology works and how it will transform the management of interorganizational collaborations within business ecosystems. Within the group of experts, concrete questions shall be raised and explored in the four identified topics with the aim to better understand the full potential of the blockchain technology.

Academic leader: ZHAW School of Management & Law, General Management, Institute for Organizational Viability, Winterthur, Michael Lustenberger, luse@zhaw.ch

Industrial leader: D-One, 8003 Zürich, Fabian Russmann, fabian.russmann@d-one.ai

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