The influence of Blockchain on work and organization

Project management: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Klüh, SECP/Darmstadt Business School
Project team: Moritz Hütten, SECP/Darmstadt Business School and Sonja Kleinod, SECP/Darmstadt Business School

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.

March 2019; Blockchained? Digitalization and Economic Policy at the Protestant Academy Tutzing. Organized by Richard Sturn, Ulrich Klüh and Martin Held.

May 2020: Power issues of digitisation

In preparation: Workshop on organizational forms of cooperation

Hütten, Moritz (2021) (submitted) “Struggling to Pay Up – Blockchains and the Future of Labor in Digital Capitalism”. Benquet, Marlene and Bourgeron, Theo (ed.): Accumulating Capital Today. Routledge.

Klüh, Ulrich and Kleinod, Sonja (2020) (forthcoming) “An ever looser union? Regional disparities in surveillance capitalism”. In: Mertens, A. et al. (ed.): Smart Region. Making the digital transformation of a region sustainable. Wiesbaden: Springer.

Klüh, Ulrich and Hütten, Moritz (2020) (forthcoming) “Datafication of Organization by Blockchain? A media-analytical consideration”. In: Bader, Verena and Kaiser, Stephan (2020) (ed.) Work in the Data Society – Challenges, Opportunities and Future Visions for Co-Determination and Human Resources Management, Sustainable Corporate Governance in Research and Practice, Wiesbaden: Springer.

Campbell-Verduyn, Malcolm; Hütten, Moritz and Rodima-Taylor, Daivi (2020) (forthcoming) “Technology, Small States and the Legitimacy of Digital Development: Combatting De-Risking Through Blockchain-Based Re-Risking?” Journal of International Relations & Development.

Sturn, Richard; Hirschbrunn, Katharina; and Ulrich Klüh (2020) (Eds.): Blockchained? – Digitalization and Economic Policy. Jahrbuch Normative und institutionelle Grundfragen der Ökonomik, vol. 18 Marburg: Metropolis

Klüh, Ulrich and Sturn, Richard (2020) “Blockchained? An economic policy guidance”. In: Sturn, Richard; Hirschbrunn, Katharina; and Ulrich Klüh (2020) (ed.): Blockchained? – Digitalization and Economic Policy. Jahrbuch Normative und institutionelle Grundfragen der Ökonomik 18 Marburg: Metropolis, S. 7-28.

Hütten, Moritz (2020) “Activism made Durable? – Blockchains and the Limits of Technology Centered Activism”. In: Sturn, Richard; Hirschbrunn, Katharina; and Ulrich Klüh (2020) (ed.): Blockchained? – Digitalization and Economic Policy. Jahrbuch Normative und institutionelle Grundfragen der Ökonomik, vol. 18 Marburg: Metropolis, pp. 77-92.

Campbell-Verduyn, Malcolm and Hütten, Moritz (2019) “Beyond scandal? Blockchain technologies and the legitimacy of post-2008 finance”. Finance&Society, 5(2), pp. 126-144.

Hütten, Moritz (2019) “The soft spot of hard code: blockchain technologies, network governance and pitfalls of technological utopianism”. Global Networks, 19(3), pp. 329-348.

Campbell-Verduyn, Malcolm; Hütten, Moritz and Rodima-Taylor, Daivi (2018) “Blockchains, Legitimacy and Digital Financial Inclusion: De-Risking by Re-Risking in the Eastern Caribbean and Eastern Europe”. Blockchain Research Network. Available online at: https://www.blockchainresearchnetwork.org/blockchains-legitimacy-and-digital-financial-inclusion/

Klüh, Ulrich and Kaltwasser, Andreas (2018) “The Curse of Constraints: On the Relevance of Political Alternatives in the Digital and Ecological Transformation”. In: Sturn, Richard, Hirschbrunn, Katharina and Klüh, Ulrich (2018) (Ed.): Capitalism and Freedom. Yearbook Normative and Institutional Foundations of Economics 17 Marburg: Metropolis, S. 247-271.

December 2019; Campbell-Verduyn, Malcolm and Hütten, Moritz: “IOs and the standardization of distributed ledger technology in financial/security infrastructures Intersections of finance and society conference. London (GBR).

November 2019; Hütten, Moritz: “Blockchain and the future of work and organisation”. W:NE Seminar of the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt. Darmstadt (DE).

November 2019; Campbell-Verduyn, Malcolm and Hütten, Moritz: “Anticipating Decentralization Through Protocological Control: International Organizations and the Standardization of Distributed Ledger Technology within Evolving Financial/Security Infrastructures”. Finance/Security Infrastructures. Amsterdam (NLD).

October 2019; Hütten, Moritz: “No block at work? – Blockchains and the Future of Work”. BendMakeChange 2019. Offenbach (DE).

September 2019; Hütten, Moritz: “What we do when we do money”. DeFi Summit London. London (GBR).

June 2019; Campbell-Verduyn, Malcolm and Hütten, Moritz: “Anticipating Decentralization through Distributed Ledger Technology: Assessing International Organization Engagement with Blockchains”. EISA European Workshop in International Studies. Cracow (POL).

June 2019; Hütten, Moritz: “Struggling to reform data capitalism – Blockchain and the pipe dream of paying up”. Accumulating Capital Conference. Paris (FRA).

March 2019; Campbell-Verduyn, Malcolm; Hütten, Moritz and Rodima-Taylor, Daivi: ‘Financial Inclusion and Re-Risking Through Blockchain-Based Initiatives in the Eastern Caribbean and Eastern Europe’. GEMSTONES-WIRE Workshop on Economic Regulations in a Digital World. Toronto (CAN).

March 2019; Hütten, Moritz: “Back to the Future – Blockchain, a sociological diagnosis of the present”. Blockchained? Digitalization and Economic Policy Conference. Tutzing (DE).

March 2019; Klüh, Ulrich: ” Economy of Digitization: Challenges, Opportunities and Questions “. Conference Blockchained? Digitalization and Economic Policy Conference. Tutzing (DE).

February 2019; Hütten, Moritz: ” The Influence of Blockchains on Work and Organisation”. MAKER Fair Darmstadt. Darmstadt (DE).

December 2018; Campbell-Verduyn, Malcolm and Hütten, Moritz: “Better living through technology? Scandal and responsibility in blockchain-based finance”. Futures of Finance and Society Conference. Edinburgh (GBR).

November 2018; Campbell-Verduyn, Malcolm; Hütten, Moritz and Rodima-Taylor, Daivi: “Financial Inclusion and Re-Risking Through Blockchain-Based Initiatives in the Eastern Caribbean and Eastern Europes”. Workshop of the Federal Reserve Bank Atlanta. Atlanta (USA).

November 2018; Hütten, Moritz: “The Future of Blockchains”. W:NE Seminar of the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences. Darmstadt (DE).

October 2018; Klüh, Ulrich and Hütten, Moritz: “Blockchain and Organizational Change – Blockchain as a Strategic Discourse on Digitalization”. NRW Dialogue Forum. Düsseldorf (DE).

September 2018; Hütten, Moritz: “Blockchain Research and Development in Germany and the Region”. Coworking-M1 Blockchain Meetup. Mainz (DE).

September 2018; Hütten, Moritz: “An Untampered Chain of Events? How Blockchain became the Next Big Thing”. Joint PhD Seminar, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies. Cologne (DE).

August 2018: Klüh, Ulrich: “Opportunities and Risks of Digitization for Economy and Society. Evening Talks of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, Erfurt.

June 2018; Campbell-Verduyn, Malcolm and Hütten, Moritz: “Beyond Bitcoin and Crypto-Scandals: Accountability and Responsibility in Blockchain-Based Finance”. EISA European Workshop in International Studies. Groningen (NLD).

June 2018: Klüh, Ulrich and Hütten, Moritz: “Blockchain and Organisation: A Primer”, Research Seminar Data Science, Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences.

April 2018; Hütten, Moritz: “Blockchain – An Overview”. W:NE Seminar of the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt. Darmstadt (DE).

April 2018; Hütten, Moritz: “The soft spot of hard code: blockchain technology, network governance and pitfalls of technological utopianism”. Annual Conference of the International Studies Association. San Francisco (USA).

March 2018: Klüh, Ulrich: ” Ecology, Digitalization and the Curse of Constraints”, Conference “Capitalism and Freedom”, Tutzing.

December 2017; Hütten, Moritz: “Soft spots of hard code: The emergence, proliferation, and pitfalls of Blockchain technology”. Intersections of Finance and Society Conference. London (GBR).

November 2017; Hütten, Moritz: “Blockchain – An Overview”. Frankfurt Financial Ethics Forum. Frankfurt (DE).

Ulrich Klüh has contributed to the Acatech Horizons Study on Blockchain.

Political consultation and participation in consultations