The Scope of Blockchain Technology: A Meta-Synthesis Study of Applications, Benefits, Challenges, and Related Technologies

Document Type : Original Article


1 Assistant Professor, Department of Management, Faculty of Management and Military Sciences, Imam Ali University, Tehran, Iran

2 PhD., in Information Technology Management, Department of Management, Faculty of Management and Military Sciences, Imam Ali University, Tehran, Iran


Objectives: Blockchain was originally a mechanism for providing bitcoin cryptocurrencies, but it soon deviated from its original purpose and now spans a variety of industries. This work provides a systematic literature review of multiple domains of blockchain. In this regard, the purpose of the article is to identify the areas of application, advantages, challenges, and related technologies of blockchain.
Methods: This research is a systematic review. All articles were collected from PubMed, Google Scholar, ACM, ScienceDirect, IEE, emerald, Elsevier, Applied sciences, and ResearchGate databases between 2014 and 2020. Based on the search conducted in the mentioned databases, 295 sources were collected as databases for review. Then, in four stages and by removing unrelated sources, 90 valid sources were analyzed and the axes related to blockchain were extracted.
Results: Based on the finding, the areas of blockchain applications were classified into 26 axes, with the highest frequency in the areas of Smart contract (22 sources), supply chain management (21 sources), health (21 sources), governance requirements (18 sources), finance (18 sources), energy (14 sources), education (13 sources), smart city (11 sources), cryptocurrencies (8 sources), public transportation (8 sources), agriculture and food (7 sources), Insurance(7 sources) and banking(7 sources). Blockchain-related technologies are based on the frequency of resources reviewed including the internet of things (22 sources), cloud computing (10 sources), artificial intelligence (8 sources), big data (7 sources), and edge computing (4 sources). The benefits of blockchain were identified in 24 areas that the most frequently of which were Tracking and transparency (27 sources), Information security (24 sources), Privacy and confidentiality (14 sources), building trust (11 sources), immutability (11 sources), decentralization (10 sources), cost savings (7 sources), Manage and store data (7 sources) and Digital asset maintenance (7 sources).
Also, the challenges of using blockchain were identified in 18 cases scalability (14 sources), lack of regulations (10 sources), energy consumption (9 sources), complexity (5 sources), and unrecoverable (4 sources) in this area are the most common. At the end of the article, while referring to blockchain research in countries, the research gap and its future directions are presented.
Conclusions: Blockchain is considered one of the main technologies of the fourth industrial revolution. Our Findings show that blockchain is a multidimensional, complex, and widely used technology. Due to the radical nature of blockchain, conceptual and theoretical discussions continue in this direction. Our initial classification of the four blockchain dimensions can help determine the architecture of this technology in organizations and communities. Our study can serve as a basis or inspiration for future work.


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