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Ethics of blockchain : A framework of technology, applications, impacts, and research directions

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The purpose of this paper is fourfold: first, to provide the first systematic study on the ethics of blockchain, mapping its main socio-technical challenges in technology and applications; second, to identify ethical issues of blockchain; third, to propose a conceptual framework of blockchain ethics study; fourth, to discuss ethical issues for stakeholders.


The paper employs literature research, research agenda and framework development.


Ethics of blockchain and its applications is essential for technology adoption. There is a void of research on blockchain ethics. The authors propose a first theoretical framework of blockchain ethics. Research agenda is proposed for future search. Finally, the authors recommend measures for stakeholders to facilitate the ethical adequacy of blockchain implementations and future Information Systems (IS) research directions. This research raises timely awareness and stimulates further debate on the ethics of blockchain in the IS community.


First, this work provides timely systematic research on blockchain ethics. Second, the authors propose the first research framework of blockchain ethics. Third, the authors identify key research questions of blockchain ethics. Fourth, this study contributes to the understanding of blockchain technology and its societal impacts.
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Keywords: Blockchain; Cryptocurrency; Decentralization; Discourse ethics; Disruptive technology; Emerging technology; Ethics; Information society; Peer-to-peer network/file sharing; Society and ethics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Center of Cyberspace and Security, School of Computer Science and Engineering, School of Management and Economics, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu, China 2: Walker College of Business, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, USA 3: Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA

Publication date: August 23, 2019

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