The influence of Blockchain on work and organization

Project Management: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Klüh
Project team: Moritz Hütten, M.A.

What is the effect of a technology claiming to make established mechanisms of confidence-building obsolete? Within the framework of the project, we investigate what changes in work and organization go hand in hand with blockchain technology. This technology can contribute to an increase in democratic participation in everyday working life, but carries risks such as an increase in precarious working conditions.

Context

Blockchains have evolved from a niche theme to a promising technology trend. Blockchains unfold their disruptive potential mainly by eliminating central, authenticating instances based on the trust of the participating individuals. New forms of low-hierarchical cooperation and equal organization of decision-making and development processes are promoted. The individual realisation in network architectures claims to be able to take the place of rigid organisational forms. In the future, blockchains will not only be used for digital payment transactions, but also for the administration of contracts, administrative data or election information. It is therefore important to clarify whether the blockchain can meet the high expectations that are currently placed on it, and which of the announced changes will really change everyday organizational life.

Question

Opportunities and risks of the blockchain for the future of the organizational and working world have not yet been researched much. The following questions will therefore be answered within the framework of the research project:

  1. Which opportunities and risks of digitisation for the future of work and organisation can be identified and thematised using the case study of blockchain technology?
  2. Which actors and forms of knowledge are strengthened by this development? Who are the losers of this development?
  3. How do certain actors profit from this development, how are others excluded?
  4. How are questions of responsibility and accountability negotiated in such decentralized structures?

Methods of investigation

Data collection takes place primarily through semi-structured interviews with actors in organisations using blockchain technology. Relevant documents and articles as well as interview material are evaluated using a grounded theory approach. Workshops are planned to identify the types of actors that play a role in the development and dissemination of blockchain technology. Together with the practical partners, various facets of digitisation will be worked on and conflicts and cooperation potentials will be highlighted. The project has a transdisciplinary orientation, especially with regard to the theoretical evaluation of the empirical material. Economic and social scientific approaches to organizational research will be used to theorize the findings from the interview phase and to gain insights into the interaction between organizations and digitizations.