Replacing Trust: A study of blockchain applicability in maritime logistics
In situations entailing risk, trusting others can leave you vulnerable to opportunistic behaviour. This holds true in domains where organisations work in alliances and there is a need for interfirm trust. Blockchain technology aims to solve trust challenges by enabling transactional data sharing and decentralisation. It can be used to reach consensus about shared states between collaborating parties without trusting a central authority. With the rise of research and projects about the use of blockchain technologies in maritime logistics, our study aims to further explore the possibilities of blockchain as a solution for trust challenges in maritime logistics. Our study drew inspiration from Design Science Research Methodology (DSRM) and we chose to explore challenges in maritime logistics through the lens of trust. We conducted four qualitative semi-structured interviews with experts in the maritime logistics domain in combination with a literature study of the current state of blockchain research. Since this is an explorative study with a limited time-frame, we realised the first two steps of the original six in DSRM. These steps were used to identify problems in the chosen domain and define which problems can be solved with blockchain solutions. Our findings suggest that there are four main challenges related to trust in maritime logistics. (1) Lack of communication, (2) Opportunistic Behaviour, (3) Distrust in information and (4) High interdependence between actors. For each identified problem, objectives for a solution have been created. For the four problems discovered in this study, the solutions include more transparent transactions of information; a lower involvement of the shipping agent; incentivised information sharing; and lowering of interdependence between actors.