When Trust is not Enough to Mobilize Blockchains: A Mobilization-Decision Theory Perspective

When Trust is not Enough to Mobilize Blockchains: A Mobilization-Decision Theory Perspective

Idongesit Williams (Aalborg University, Denmark)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3632-2.ch012

Abstract

The Mobilization Decision theory provides an insight into why mobilization occurs and the factors that result in mobilization. In the last decade, blockchain technology has been touted as a technology that facilitates trust between unknown parties. Trust is at the core of all human interaction, be it commercial or social. However, the global adoption of blockchain is low. At a global scale, relatively few organizations have mobilized blockchain to either handle or support their organizational processes. In order to understand why this is the case, the mobilization decision theory is used to explain why the global adoption of blockchain is low and what needs to change to facilitate its widespread adoption at a global scale.
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Introduction

Blockchain technology has evolved from being a hype to a technology being used by public and private sector players to deliver different services. The technology has also evolved from Blockchain 1.0 to now Blockchain 3.0. Blockchain 1.0 enabled cryptocurrencies; Blockchain 2.0 was upgraded to support different forms of transactions in different commercial operations in various sectors of the economy; while Blockchain 3.0 enabled transactions in social services, public services and other areas such as the arts etc (Momo, et al. 2019). There is great deal of literature highlighting the potentials of Blockchain towards the transformation of business ecosystems as we know today. It is believed that the technology will someday have the same impact as the Internet on the way and manner commercial transactions are conducted (Shaikh and Lashari 2017). Obviously these are ideas that will either one day materialize or otherwise. However, beyond these ideas on the significance of Blockchain to organizational activities and processes, Blockchain has a basic characteristic (facilitating trust). Trust is critical in every commercial transaction. Therefore the inventors designed Blockchain, to among other things, facilitate trust between different partners or stakeholders who do not trust themselves (Prasad, et al. 2018) (Brown 2018) (Williams and Agbesi 2019). In some cases Blockchain has been identified as an architecture of trust (Werbach 2018). This characteristic makes Blockchain a unique technology.

In principle, this characteristic (trust) should be enough to enable the rapid adoption of Blockchains. Unfortunately, today (Year 2020), the global adoption of Blockchain is low (Clohessy and Acton 2019). Furthermore, the amount of global investment towards propping up the Blockchain market is also low (Stastista (c) 2019). What makes the low adoption of Blockchain intriguing is that decision makers in companies making over 100 million in their global revenue are aware of the technology (Pawczuk, Massey and Schatsky 2018). However, there is no sense of urgency towards adopting Blockchain by these decision makers. In some cases, organizations who adopted Blockchain have discontinued the use of the technology (PWC 2018). The low adoption of Blockchain is also prevalent and even lower in developing countries (Clohessy and Acton 2019).

Adoption theories have often contended that the usefulness of technologies moderates the behavioral intention towards technology adoption (See some classic adoption theorists (Oliver 1980) (Venkatesh, et al. 2003) etc). Nevertheless, in the case of Blockchain, one could contend that its usefulness is not pronounced to companies. This is because most companies have already adopted competing technologies and they find have these competing technologies to be useful for their operational processes. The existence of these competing technologies diminishes the need for adoption of Blockchain (Pawczuk, Massey and Schatsky 2018). One could also say that facilitating trust in a business ecosystem or commercial encounters should be a strong motivation for organizations to adopt Blockchain. However, as presented in the methodology and findings of this chapter, facilitating trust is not a strong enough motivation for organizations to adopt Blockchain. Therefore, although Blockchain has its unique usefulness in enabling trust in a business ecosystem, this usefulness has not resulted in the mass adoption of Blockchain technology. Therefore current adoption theories seem to be inadequate towards analyzing why organizations are not adopting this Blockchain. In this chapter another theory, the Mobilization-Decision theory, will be used to explain why the adoption of Blockchain is low and what can be done about it.

The Mobilization-Decision theory by Williams (2021) is used as the theoretical framework for searching and explaining why organizations are not adopting Blockchain. The theory provides an explanation on why mobilization occurs. This theory is used for this exercise, because as mentioned earlier, cooperation and some SMEs (McKinsey 2017) are aware of Blockchain (Pawczuk, Massey and Schatsky 2018). Some of them are piloting Blockchain (ibid). They believe that the technology has some usefulness. Hence, usefulness is not an issue; it is the decision to mobilize resources to adopt the technology that is the issue. This is where the mobilization-decision theory comes in handy. The theory will also be used as a basis for providing suggestions on how make more organizations adopt Blockchain.

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