Horizon CDT Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Blockchain Technologies: Beyond the Code Console

  Symeon Dionysis (2017 cohort)   www.linkedin.com/in/symeon-dionysis

According to the 2017 Gartner's Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, Blockchain, the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) behind Bitcoin, is within the three top trends to dominate the business ecosystem in the next 5 to 10 years [1]. From legacy businesses and financial institutions to start-ups and governments there is an increasing interest around this technology with some characterising it as the most influential innovation in the next decades [2] while others dismiss it as a speculative bubble" and a "fraud" [3].

At the moment, there is ongoing experimentation on how different forms of this technology can be utilized and ameliorate a number of fields ranging from finance and stock markets to voting and health care [4]. However, these efforts have been focused solely on the technical development of the technology, ignoring the social, economic, political and cultural contexts within it's being developed. The absence of these variables, and of a non-technical aspect overall, create a research gap in Blockchain technologies that only recently is being identified not only by the academic community [5,6] but from governing agencies such as the European Commission [7].

Hence, this PhD will investigate Blockchain technologies beyond the code console. The research will focus on users and society, referring to the individuals that are using and transacting on Blockchains as well as the behavioural and societal consequences of the technology and will expand across three different levels of this technology, namely, design & features, measurement & value, and management & organization [5].

This holistic approach of Blockchains will have a two-sided contribution. On the one hand, it will fill the research gap in Blockchains by examining aspects of the technology that have been neglected so far in the academic literature. On the other hand, it will provide insights for designing industry applications based not on market trends but on user's needs.

References

  1. Panetta, K. (2017, August 15). Top Trends in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2017. Retrieved from: Link
  2. Tapscott, D., & Tapscott, A. (2017). Realizing the Potential of Blockchain: A Multistakeholder Approach to the Stewardship of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies (White Paper). Geneva: World Economic Forum. Retrieved from: Link
  3. Levine, M. (2017, September 13). Bitcoin Doubts and Buffet Criticisms. Bloomberg. Retrieved from: Link
  4. Walport, M. (2016). Distributed ledger technology: Beyond Blockchain. UK Government Office for Science, Tech. Rep 19. Retrieved from: Link
  5. Risius, M., & Spohrer, K. (2017). A Blockchain Research Framework. Business & Information Systems Engineering, 59(6), 385-409.
  6. Yli-Huumo, J., Ko, D., Choi, S., Park, S., & Smolander, K. (2016). Where is current research on Blockchain technology? A systematic review. PLOS One, 11(10).
  7. Sierra, C. (2016). Blockchain for Social Good. European Commission. Retrieved from: Link

This author is supported by the Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Nottingham (RCUK Grant No. EP/L015463/1) and Digital Catapult Centre.