Blockchain in accounting research: current trends and emerging topics

Tatiana Garanina*, Mikko Ranta, John Dumay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: This paper provides a structured literature review of blockchain in accounting. The authors identify current trends, analyse and critique the key topics of research and discuss the future of this nascent field of inquiry.

Design/methodology/approach: This study’s analysis combined a structured literature review with citation analysis, topic modelling using a machine learning approach and a manual review of selected articles. The corpus comprised 153 academic papers from two ranked journal lists, the Association of Business Schools (ABS) and the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC), and from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). From this, the authors analysed and critiqued the current and future research trends in the four most predominant topics of research in blockchain for accounting.

Findings: Blockchain is not yet a mainstream accounting topic, and most of the current literature is normative. The four most commonly discussed areas of blockchain include the changing role of accountants; new challenges for auditors; opportunities and challenges of blockchain technology application; and the regulation of cryptoassets. While blockchain will likely be disruptive to accounting and auditing, there will still be a need for these roles. With the sheer volume of information that blockchain records, both professions may shift out of the back-office toward higher-profile advisory roles where accountants try to align competitive intelligence with business strategy, and auditors are called on ex ante to verify transactions and even whole ecosystems.

Research limitations/implications: The authors identify several challenges that will need to be examined in future research. Challenges include skilling up for a new paradigm, the logistical issues associated with managing and monitoring multiple parties all contributing to various public and private blockchains, and the pressing need for legal frameworks to regulate cryptoassets.

Practical implications: The possibilities that blockchain brings to information disclosure, fraud detection and overcoming the threat of shadow dealings in developing countries all contribute to the importance of further investigation into blockchain in accounting.

Originality/value: The authors’ structured literature review uniquely identifies critical research topics for developing future research directions related to blockchain in accounting.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021, Tatiana Garanina, Mikko Ranta and John Dumay. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Accounting
  • Blockchain
  • Future trends
  • Literature review
  • Machine-learning approach

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