The Rise of Enforceable Business Processes from the Hashes of Blockchain-Based Smart Contracts

  • Sara MiglioriniEmail author
  • Mauro Gambini
  • Carlo Combi
  • Marcello La Rosa
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing book series (LNBIP, volume 352)


Over the past few decades, the automation of inter-organizational processes has been the focus of several research efforts that have produced a broad spectrum of design methods and technologies. Recently, some experiments have shown how in principle a Decentralized Autonomous Process-Aware Information System (DAIS) can be implemented by means of Blockchain-based Smart Contracts (BSCs). In this paper, we cast a shadow on this novel approach by arguing that such kind of contracts cannot be considered an optimal abstraction to specify inter-organizational process models. We base our analysis on contractual incompleteness, a pivotal concept in widely accepted economic theories. We identify the main weakness in the conflict between the immutability-by-default of the BSCs and the nature of inter-organizational processes. As a result of this analysis, we introduce the concept of enforceable business process that is more in line with the original idea of smart contract and extends it to better match the essential requirements of a DAIS.


Blockchain Smart Contracts Network coalition Process-Aware Information System Enforceable Business Process 



This work is partially supported by the Italian National Group for Scientific Computation (GNCS-INDAM) and by “Progetto di Eccellenza” of the Computer Science Department, University of Verona, Italy.


  1. 1.
    Buterin, V.: A Next-Generation Smart Contract and Decentralized Application Platform (2014). Accessed 04 2019
  2. 2.
    Combi, C., Gambini, M., Migliorini, S., Posenato, R.: Representing business processes through a temporal data-centric workflow modeling language: an application to the management of clinical pathways. IEEE Trans. Syst. Man Cybern. Syst. 44(9), 1182–1203 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    García-Bañuelos, L., Ponomarev, A., Dumas, M., Weber, I.: Optimized execution of business processes on blockchain. In: Carmona, J., Engels, G., Kumar, A. (eds.) BPM 2017. LNCS, vol. 10445, pp. 130–146. Springer, Cham (2017). Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hart, O.: Incomplete contracts and control. Am. Econ. Rev. 107(7), 1731–1752 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hart, O., Holmström, B.: The Theory of Contracts. Econometric Society Monographs, pp. 71–156. Cambridge University Press, New York (1987)zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Mendling, J., et al.: Blockchains for business process management - challenges and opportunities. ACM Trans. Manage. Inf. Syst. 9(1), 4:1–4:16 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nakamoto, S.: Bitcoin: a peer-to-peer electronic cash system (2008). Accessed 04 2019
  8. 8.
    Powell, W.W.: Neither market nor hierarchy: network forms of organization. Res. Organ. Behav. 12, 295–336 (1990)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Simon, H.A.: Organizations and markets. J. Econ. Persp. 5(2), 25–44 (1991)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Szabo, N.: Formalizing and securing relationships on public networks. First Monday 2(9) (1997). Accessed Apr 2019
  11. 11.
    Williamson, O.E.: The Economic Institutions of Capitalism: Firms, Markets, Relational Contracting. The Free Press. A division of Macmillan, Inc. New York (1985)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Williamson, O.E.: Comparative economic organization: the analysis of discrete structural alternatives. Adm. Sci. Q. 36(2), 269–296 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly
  2. 2.School of Computing and Information SystemsThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations