Blockchain for compliance: an information processing case study of mandatory supply chain transparency in conflict minerals sourcing


Co-authored by: Dr. Juliette Engelhart

Date of Publication




Firms are increasingly pressured to comply with mandatory supply chain transparency (SCT) regulations. Drawing on information processing theory (IPT), this study aims to show how blockchain technology can address information uncertainty and equivocality in assuring regulatory compliance in an interorganizational network (ION).


IPT is applied in a single case study of an ION in the mining industry that aimed to implement blockchain to address mandatory SCT regulations. The authors build on a rich proprietary data set consisting of interviews and substantial secondary material from actors along the supply chain.


The case shows that blockchain creates equality between actors, enables compliance and enhances efficiency in an ION, reducing information uncertainty and equivocality arising from conflict minerals regulation. The system promotes engagement and data sharing between parties while protecting commercial sensitive information. The lack of central authority prevents larger partners from taking control. The system provides mineral provenance and a regulation-compliant record. System cost analysis shows that the system is efficient as it is inexpensive relative to volumes and values of metals transacted. Issues were identified related to collecting richer human rights data for assurance and compliance with due diligence regulations.


The authors provide some of the first evidence in the operations and supply chain management literature of the specific architecture, costs and limitations of using blockchain for SCT. Using an IPT lens in an ION setting, the authors demonstrate how blockchain-based systems can address two key IPT challenges: environmental uncertainty and equivocality.

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First Nations land acknowledegement

We acknowledge that the UBC Point Grey campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm.

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