A Blockchain Research Framework

What We (don’t) Know, Where We Go from Here, and How We Will Get There


While blockchain technology is commonly considered potentially disruptive in various regards, there is a lack of understanding where and how blockchain technology is effectively applicable and where it has mentionable practical effects. This issue has given rise to critical voices that judge the technology as over-hyped. Against this backdrop, this study adapts an established research framework to structure the insights of the current body of research on blockchain technology, outline the present research scope as well as disregarded topics, and sketch out multidisciplinary research approaches. The framework differentiates three groups of activities (design and features, measurement and value, management and organization) at four levels of analysis (users and society, intermediaries, platforms, firms and industry). The review shows that research has predominantly focused on technological questions of design and features, while neglecting application, value creation, and governance. In order to foster substantial blockchain research that addresses meaningful questions, this study identifies several avenues for future studies. Given the breadth of open questions, it shows where research can benefit from multidisciplinary collaborations and presents data sources as starting points for empirical investigations.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    We provide open access to the overview of current scientific knowledge [Table 2 and Table A1 (in the appendix, available online via http://link.springer.com)] here: http://bit.ly/BCSOTA. We are thankful to Florian Glaser for his inspiring feedback to the avenues for future research.

  2. 2.

    In the following also interchangeably referred to as “blockchain”, “blockchain systems”, “blockchain environment”, or “decentralized blockchain”.

  3. 3.

    We provide open access to the overview of current scientific knowledge (Table 2) here: http://bit.ly/BCSOTA.


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Risius, M., Spohrer, K. A Blockchain Research Framework. Bus Inf Syst Eng 59, 385–409 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12599-017-0506-0

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  • Blockchain
  • Research framework
  • Literature review
  • Distributed ledger technology
  • Digitalization