Blockchain: case studies in supply chain visibility

Michael Rogerson, Glenn Parry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

253 Citations (SciVal)
2165 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This paper investigates how blockchain has moved beyond cryptocurrencies and is being deployed to enhance visibility and trust in supply chains; its limitations, and potential impact.

Approach: Qualitative analysis undertaken via case studies drawn from food companies using semistructured interviews.

Findings: Blockchain is demonstrated as an enabler of visibility in supply chains. Applications at scale are most likely for products where the end consumer is prepared to pay the premium currently required to fund the technology, e.g. baby food. Challenges remain in four areas: trust of the technology; human error and fraud at the boundaries; governance; consumer data access and
willingness to pay.

Research implications and limitations: The paper shows that blockchain can be utilised as part of a system generating visibility and trust in supply chains. Research directs academic attention to issues that remain to be addressed. The challenges pertaining to the technology itself we believe to be generalisable; those specific to the food industry may not hold elsewhere.

Practical implications: From live case studies we provide empirical evidence that blockchain provides visibility of exchanges and reliable data in fully-digitised supply chains. This provides provenance and guards against counterfeit goods. However, firms will need to work to gain consumer buy-in for the technology following repeated past claims of trustworthiness.

Originality: This paper provides primary evidence from blockchain use cases ‘in the wild’. The exploratory case studies examine application of blockchain for supply chain visibility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-614
JournalSupply Chain Management
Issue number5
Early online date4 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2020


  • blockchain for good
  • research4good
  • blockchain
  • supply chains
  • supply chain visibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Management Information Systems


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