A study on blockchain technology as a resource for competitive advantage.
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The blockchain innovation is still in its nascent stage, but among its characteristics is the potential to eliminate the need for third parties to act as a level of trust. In a literature review, it was found that the link between application areas and entrepreneurial opportunities were superficially covered for blockchain technology (Bjørnstad et al., 2016). This thesis seeks to understand the technology as a resource to investigate how blockchain, together with other resources, contributes to the competitiveness of the firm. A theoretical framework has been developed with a resource-based view to analyze empirical data collected through a qualitative study on four blockchain companies. Our findings show that the blockchain technology is interconnected with other resources. Employee know-how is found to be the most scarce and valuable resource, and founders with extensive prior experience with blockchain are more likely to create valuable blockchain solutions. Important external resources contributing to a competitive advantage are found to be community building and strategic partnerships. Our analysis shows that competitiveness of blockchain as a resource is reflected through the process of choosing the technology. The approaches for utilising blockchain are found to be technology first - problem second, or problem first - technology second. We have found that visionary founders with extensive prior experience with blockchain tend to start out with problems that needs a technology like blockchain in order to be solved. This process is found to give more valuable solutions than starting with technology first. This study contributes by bridging the identified knowledge gap between potential application areas of blockchain, and the necessary resource configuration enabling a firm to utilize blockchain as a resource for that application area. By applying our framework to analyze how companies are utilising blockchain, together with other resources, for competitiveness, we demonstrate the relevance of the resource configurations.