Blockchain – a force for good?

This project offers state-of-the-art research to produce a comprehensive and up-to-date body of knowledge on digital technology social legitimacy. 


Blockchain has created new business and new opportunities to address global challenges such as the UN’s SDGs. Yet, several public and governmental organizations have raised concerns about its detrimental outcomes such as security and data privacy issues, corruption and environmental impacts. People’s acceptance of an innovation is usually related to legitimacy - the trust of a new technology within given contextual values, norms and culture. Legitimacy may involve the analysis of business and management, environment and law and ethics factors. If in sync, these factors can lead to innovation for the public good, i.e. the use of a technology that enables business innovations and ameliorates global challenges such as inequality, social cohesion, sustainability and climate change.

Our ultimate objective is to generate a comprehensive and contemporary body of knowledge on the legitimacy of Blockchain. We aim to achieve this by investigating unintended consequences, identifying challenges that require resolution, and exploring opportunities that can be harnessed. Our approach incorporates insights from various disciplines, encompassing the natural and social sciences. By leveraging this multidisciplinary foundation, we strive to provide practical guidance to the business, research, and policy communities, as well as to all stakeholders affected by Blockchain.

Our methodology is built upon the recognition that the legitimacy of technology entails the management, environmental, and regulatory systems surrounding it. These three systems represent distinct scholarly disciplines, each with its own unique concepts, methods, and theories.

  • Business and Management: We explore the reciprocal influence between businesses and blockchain legitimacy. How can businesses shape and be shaped by the legitimacy of blockchain technology?
  • Ethics, Law and Risk: We delve into the ethical and legal dimensions of blockchain development and usage, with a focus on mitigating potential harm. How can developers and users proactively address risks and ensure responsible blockchain practices?
  • Environment: We investigate how developers and users can minimize blockchain-related emissions and contribute to climate change solutions. How can blockchain technology align with environmental sustainability goals?

Aims and objectives

We aim to generate scientific resources for evidence-based business, policy and research advice, specifically:

  1. To provide a better understanding of sociocultural, and socio-political factors and their interrelations with technological, regulatory, and business-related aspects of Blockchain development and use.
  2. To yield actionable evidence for addressing the challenges of technology acceptance.

The project is thus explicitly designed to have a strong contribution to business practices, policy and social impact.


Research themes

Find out more about our research at Surrey: