In recent times, organizations are increasingly adopting blockchain technology in their supply chains due to various advantages such as cost optimization, effective and verified record-keeping, transparency, and route tracking. This paper aims to examine the factors influencing the intention of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in India to adopt blockchain technology in their supply chains. A questionnaire-based survey was used to collect data from 216 SMEs in the northern states of India. The study has considered an integrated technology adoption framework consisting of the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), Diffusion of Innovation (DOI), and Technology-Organization-Environment (TOE). Using this integrated TAM-TOE-DOI framework, the study has proposed eleven hypotheses related to factors of blockchain technology adoption. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modeling (SEM) have been used to test the hypotheses. The results show that relative advantage, technology compatibility, technology readiness, top management support, perceived usefulness, and vendor support have a positive influence on the intention of Indian SMEs to adopt blockchain technology in their supply chains. The complexity of technology and cost concerns act as inhibitors to the technology adoption by SMEs. Furthermore, the three factors, namely, security concerns, perceived ease of use, and regulatory support, do not influence the intention to adopt the technology. The study contributes to filling a significant gap in the academic literature since only a few studies have endeavored to ascertain the technology adoption factors by supply chains of SMEs in a developing country like India. The study has also proposed a novel integrated technology adoption framework that can be employed by future studies. The findings are expected to enable SMEs to understand important factors to be considered for adopting blockchain technology in their supply chains. Furthermore, the study may benefit the blockchain technology developers and suppliers as they can offer customized solutions based on the findings.
In today’s digital society, many next-generation communication technologies, such as blockchain, the Internet of Things, and cloud computing, have been introduced to offer unlimited competencies for various applications and contexts . To seek a competitive advantage and improve operational performance, the business world has been adopting these technologies in various functional fields. In recent times, blockchain has emerged as a widely accepted transformative technology due to the various benefits like ease of collaboration for companies, ease of working and governance, process streamlining, cost optimization, effective and verified record-keeping, transparency, efficiency, etc. . It is estimated that the adoption of the technology will originate a value of USD 3 trillion per year by the year 2030. The estimates also indicate that 10% of the world economy will be using this technology by the year 2025 .
The supply chains have seen an enhanced complexity in recent times due to the increased scale of the businesses, diversified product portfolio, enhanced customer preferences, uncertain demand conditions, need to collaborate with multiple suppliers, a large number of geographic locations to be served, and variety of intermediaries . Hence, globally, organizations are shifting from traditional to technology-driven supply chain management systems for enhanced and effective collaboration across suppliers and buyers . For increased efficiency, blockchain technology has been embraced by many supply chain management systems in recent times . This technology works in a distributed network with each transaction being validated and recorded by consensus of the nodes in the chain . The technology enables verifiable and immutable records along with data transparency and route tracking. However, the blockchain technology adoption in supply chains is inherent with many challenges like hardware and software requirements, training needs, cost and security concerns, etc. [4,8]. Thus, organizations are skeptical of adopting the technology in their supply chains . Therefore, it is required to ascertain the influencers that impact the intention of organizations to embrace blockchain technology.
Blockchain technology has a special significance for supply chains of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in a less developed country like India. SMEs act as the most vibrant and dynamic engine of growth in India due to their contribution to eradicating unemployment, poverty, income inequality, and regional imbalances . Blockchain technology adoption by supply chains of SMEs is expected to optimize their operations and lead to enhanced performance and efficiency . Thus, the benefits derived from blockchain technology by supply chains can enable SMEs to become more productive and competitive in dynamic market conditions. However, blockchain technology adoption by supply chains of SMEs in India faces major challenges due to the limited availability of various resources like skilled workforce, capital, technology penetration, etc. .
A review of the available literature indicates that not a very large number of SMEs have embraced blockchain technology in their supply chains in developing countries . Furthermore, a limited number of studies ascertained the technology adoption by supply chains of SMEs in a developing country like India [8, 11]. The existing studies have used various theoretical models and constructs to ascertain the determinants of blockchain technology adoption by supply chains of the organizations [8, 9, 12, 13]. One of the major limitations as pointed out by most of these studies has been the use of only a few antecedents to assess the determinants of the technology. Thus, there is a need to use a comprehensive model to include the various available constructs proposed by the existing theoretical models and relevant to blockchain technology adoption by supply chains of SMEs. For this purpose, the present study integrates three widely used theoretical models and theories, namely, the Technology Adoption Model (TAM), Technology-Organization-Environment (TOE) Model, and Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) Model. The study findings are expected to enable SMEs to understand important factors that they should pay attention to while embracing blockchain technology. Furthermore, the study can benefit the blockchain technology developers and suppliers as they can offer customized solutions based on the findings.
In the Indian context, all manufacturing and service enterprises having investment in plant and machinery or equipment in the range of INR 10 million to 100 million and an annual turnover in the range of INR 50 million to 500 million are categorized as small enterprises. Furthermore, the medium enterprises have investments in the range of INR 100 million to 500 million and an annual turnover in the range of INR 500 million to 2.5 billion . To meet the stated objectives, the present study has used the specified criteria of annual turnover to identify an organization as an SME.
The paper contributes to the existing literature by offering an insight into the factors influencing the intention of Indian SMEs to adopt blockchain technology in their supply chains. Hence, an opportunity is offered to the various stakeholders including SMEs, technology developers, vendors, and regulatory authorities to reflect on the determinants of intention to adopt blockchain technology. The study further contributes by putting forth a novel integrated technology adoption framework consisting of the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), Diffusion of Innovation (DOI), and Technology-Organization-Environment (TOE). This proposed framework may be employed to explore the determinants of blockchain technology adoption in various micro, small, and large organizations across the manufacturing and service sectors in India and abroad.
The remainder of the paper is structured as follows. The theoretical background to the study is presented. The third section describes the research framework. The fourth section explains hypotheses development followed by the next section on materials and methods. The sixth section on results and discussion describes data analysis and findings. Thereafter, the conclusions, the implications of the study, and future research directions are presented.
2. Theoretical Foundations
2.1. The Concept of Blockchain Technology
The concept of blockchain technology was first introduced in 1991 by Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta . Blockchain is a peer-to-peer transaction network that uses the distributed ledger technology (DLT) to hold any information and is capable of setting rules on how this information is updated . In the blockchain, different entities involved in the transaction work as nodes (computers). Each participating node, having a copy of the distributed ledger, is further interconnected with other nodes in the distributed peer-to-peer networks. DLT maintains the ledger of each node of the chain where business transactions, also known as blocks, get stored in distributed ledgers in the chain overall participating nodes in an immutable manner. The new block is appended and chained (linked) to the previous block in the chain using a hash number, and thus, information on the ledger grows .
The hash number is generated by using different hashing algorithms and running the contents of the block in question through a cryptographic hash function. In the chain, all blocks stay connected while ensuring that hashes connecting two blocks remain in an immutable form. Each block is also having a timestamp with the date and time of its occurrence. The cryptographic hashes ensure that to alter an entry in a past block, all subsequent blocks also need to be altered. The ledger is validated and maintained by a network of nodes according to a predefined consensus mechanism with multiple nodes holding a full copy of the entire database. No single centralized authority is needed. Any change and validation of a transaction are the results of a consensus between the network members, and each member can trace the origin of the transaction [18–20].
2.2. Blockchain Technology in Supply Chains
The multiple partners in a typical supply chain generally include manufacturing plants, suppliers, distribution centers and intermediaries, transporters, and other logistic services that participate in information, material, and cash flow. The global supply chains have further expanded into import, export, forwarding, and delivery in international trading leading to increased complexity . The application of blockchain technology to supply chains is expected to enhance overall performance and reliability by enabling various value-enhancing tasks like recording, tracking, and sharing information with speed and accuracy. This is possible through a real-time digital ledger of transactions and movements for all stakeholders in their supply chain network .
In a supply chain, the blockchain will assist in tracking the product journey from a raw material supplier to a consumer . This will contribute to eliminating the counterfeited goods via traceability of the origin of the goods . In a typical supply chain, data errors are common and generally created at the inputting stage. Since fewer people perform data entry tasks in a blockchain, the errors in data entry can be reduced. Furthermore, using blockchain, the redundant jobs can be eliminated as all parties can access the same information across the supply chain . Blockchain technology in supply chains also enables accurate demand forecasting, efficient management of supply chain disruptions, and reduced inventory carrying cost due to its ability to create and share records of activities across the supply chain .
Due to its immutability and timestamp feature, blockchain technology when applied to supply chains does not allow any kind of backdated changes or data diddling which makes it more trustworthy and transparent to use . Generally, electronic data are collected, collated, and stored on the central servers of the service provider in a typical traditional supply chain. These servers are susceptible to attacks. However, owing to its highly protective mechanisms of distributed consensus and cryptography, blockchain technology improves the security of data and offers an environment safe from cyberattacks .
2.3. Technology Adoption Models
Technology adoption can be explained as the intention of a user(s) or an organization to select a technology for utilizing it for their benefit . Thus, technology adoption will lead to the diffusion of technology and, hence, its acceptance and use by the masses. The available literature shows  that various theoretical technology adoption models and theories like Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), Technology, Organization, and Environment (TOE) Framework, Innovation Diffusion Theory (IDT)/Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) Theory, Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), etc. have been used by the researchers to understand the factors affecting the technology adoption.
Many studies have explored the adoption of blockchain technology in the operation and supply chain. For the purpose, the different models used by the available studies include TAM , UTAUT [31, 32], IDT , TOE [8, 34], and TRA . Furthermore, a combination of TAM, technology readiness index (TRI), and the theory of planned behavior (TPB) model has also been used . Another study used a combination of TAM, DOI, and UTAUT . These studies have unearthed various factors that influence blockchain technology adoption in supply chains. These factors include relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, upper management support, cost, market dynamics, competitive pressure, regulatory support, security, perceived benefits, perceived usefulness, perceived usefulness, organizational readiness, organizational size, and data governance [34, 37]. In the Indian context, some studies [4, 11, 32, 38–40] have attempted to examine blockchain technology adoption in supply chains. A recent study  has further explored blockchain technology adoption by supply chains of SMEs in India. Thus, it seems that a limited number of studies have assessed the determinants of blockchain technology adoption in supply chains of SMEs in the Indian context. Hence, there is a need to explore this area further. The present study is an attempt in that direction.
3. Research Framework
To examine the determinants of blockchain adoption in supply chains of SMEs, the present study considers TAM, TOE framework, and DOI theory to propose an integrated TAM-TOE-DOI framework.
TAM  examines the behavior of the end-user when it comes to accepting technology innovation. TAM considers two variables, namely, perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness, to assess attitude toward using and behavioral intention to use the new technology. Furthermore, TAM2  and TAM3  which are extended versions of the TAM framework have also been suggested. The TAM model has been empirically used by previous studies to predict antecedents of technology adoption [36, 44, 45].
TOE framework  determines the acceptance of innovation at the enterprise level by considering the technology, organizational, and environmental contexts of an enterprise. The technology context considers the internal and external benefits of the new technology to the organization. The organizational context includes firm characteristics like organizational structure, departmentalization, roles of human resources, degree of control, etc. Furthermore, the environmental context refers to the regulatory environment, market factors, and competitors. The extant literature shows the use of the TOE framework for examining factors of blockchain technology adoption [8, 9, 13, 45].
Diffusion of Innovation (DOI)  theory examines user response and acceptance for a new concept to explore the adoption rate of new technology. These attributes include relative advantage, technology compatibility, the complexity of technology, observability of innovation, and trialability of technology. This theory presents a widely used adoption model employed by studies in the past [36, 47, 48].
The present study posits that various constructs of TAM, TOE, and DOI have an important role in influencing the blockchain technology adoption of supply chain users. Hence, to meet the objectives of the study, an integrated TAM-TOE-DOI framework has been proposed. TAM examines the end-user behavior toward technology adoption by considering factors at the individual level, whereas TOE explores technology adoption by considering factors at the enterprise level. Furthermore, DOI considers attributes of innovation that can attempt technology adoption.
Considering the objectives of the present study, 11 factors of technology adoption under five aspects of innovation characteristics, technology context, organizational context, environmental context, and individual characteristics adapted from the integrated TAM-TOE-DOI framework are found relevant. In the case of innovation characteristics, three attributes of DOI theory, namely, relative advantage, technology compatibility, and complexity of technology, are considered relevant for blockchain adoption in supply chains by SMEs. The technology context that belongs to the TOE framework ascertains the technology readiness of SMEs to adopt the technology. The organizational context of TOE ascertains the role of top management support, security concerns, and cost concerns of SMEs in influencing their intention to adopt blockchain technology in supply chains. Furthermore, the environmental context of the TOE framework examines the contribution of regulatory support and vendor support in impacting the intention of SMEs. Lastly, the individual characteristics consider perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness of blockchain technology to explore the technology adoption intention of SMEs in India. Both these individual characteristics belong to the TAM model.
4. Hypothesis Development
The review of the pertinent literature and the integrated TAM-TOE-DOI model indicated the relevance of a total of five characteristics/contexts with eleven factors to influence blockchain technology adoption in supply chains by SMEs. In the following paragraphs, hypotheses related to the considered factors have been presented.
4.1. Hypothesis Development-Innovation Characteristics
As per the preceding paragraphs, three attributes considered relevant as innovation characteristics for the adoption of blockchain technology in supply chains are relative advantage, technology compatibility, and complexity of technology.
Rogers  has explained the relative advantage of technology as the degree to which the benefits it offers are perceived as better than that offered by the existing technology. The adoption of blockchain technology in supply chains is expected to offer distinct features like the transparency of data [31, 50], supply chain traceability [8, 50], reliability , and immutable and verifiable records with timestamp [6, 32], The existing studies have found relative advantage as an essential factor in the adoption of blockchain technology by organizations [8, 37, 51].
The compatibility of innovation has been explained in respect of its consistency with potential adopter’s present needs, existing values, and past experiences . Furthermore, compatibility of technology also involves consideration of organizational culture  and the available technology infrastructure . It is easier for an organization to apply blockchain technology to its supply chains if it has a high compatibility level . The existing studies have confirmed that the compatibility of blockchain technology positively influences the intention to adopt it in supply chains by the organizations [13, 51, 54].
The complexity of technology is associated with the relative difficulty to understand and use it . Wong et al.  have reported that blockchain technology is challenging to understand by the users. The errors due to algorithms may be difficult to discover or are found too late to fix. Hence, there could be concerns about implementing blockchain technology to supply chains . The complexity of blockchain technology has also been found as a major barrier to its implementation in supply chains by the available studies [9, 13, 55].
In light of the above discussion, the following three hypotheses are formulated for the factors of innovation characteristics: H1: relative advantage of blockchain technology will positively influence the intention of SMEs to adopt it in supply chains H2: blockchain technology compatibility will positively influence the intention of SMEs to adopt it in supply chains H3: the complexity of blockchain technology will negatively influence the intention of SMEs to adopt it in supply chains
4.2. Hypothesis Development-Technological Context
The technology context examines the technology readiness of organizations to adopt blockchain technology in supply chains.
Technology readiness of an organization includes the availability of the required hardware, software, and specialized manpower to enable the adoption of new technology . The organization should be sufficiently prepared with technological knowledge, training, expertise, and skillset to implement the new technology [56, 57]. The organizations with blockchain technology readiness are in a better position to adopt the technology in supply chains. The extant literature [6, 58, 59] has also reported the positive role of technology readiness in influencing the adoption of blockchain by SMEs in India. Thus, the following hypothesis is proposed: H4: technology readiness will positively influence the intention of SMEs to adopt blockchain technology in supply chains
4.3. Hypothesis Development-Organizational Context
The organizational context explores the top management support, security concerns, and cost concerns for adopting blockchain technology in supply chains by organizations in India.
Top management support can be explained as the degree to which top management comprehends the significance of new technology and is involved in the technology adoption process . The allocation of adequate human, financial, and infrastructural resources by top management plays a significant role in the adoption of new technology like blockchain [37, 59, 61]. The existing literature has highlighted the positive role of top management support in the adoption of blockchain technology [6, 54, 62].
Most of the transactions through blockchain are transparent, authentic, traceable, and verifiable, and this can prevent fraud across supply chains . However, with consensus among participants, it is possible to collude, and hence, security may be compromised . There can also be user apprehensions about privacy and security of the data due to concerns like data vulnerability with respect to distributed ledgers , high level of available visibility of data , the tradeoff between speed of transactions, and security . The extant literature has also reported security concerns as an important consideration in the adoption of blockchain technology by organizations [9, 12, 51].
The adoption of blockchain technology is expected to increase operational efficiency and reduce waste and transaction and processing costs . However, the huge up-front cost with investment in hardware and software infrastructure is required for obtaining and implementing the technology . The implementation of the technology may also be hindered due to the cost of human resources and skill acquisition . Hence, many SMEs in India may be skeptical about adopting blockchain technology in supply chains as confirmed by the previous studies [8,9].
Based on the above discussion, the following hypotheses regarding the considered factors of organizational context are formulated: H5: top management support will positively influence the intention of SMEs to adopt blockchain technology in supply chains H6: security concerns with respect to blockchain technology will negatively influence the intention of SMEs to adopt it in supply chains H7: cost concerns with respect to blockchain technology will negatively influence the intention of SMEs to adopt it in supply chains
4.4. Hypothesis Development-Individual Characteristics
The perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use of adopting blockchain technology have been considered as the individual characteristics that can influence the technology adoption intention of organizations in supply chains.
Perceived usefulness refers to the degree to which a user believes that using a specific technology will improve his or her job performance . It has been regarded as the primary influencer to positively induce intention for using new technology . Furthermore, perceived ease of use describes the degree to which a user believes that using a specific technology would minimize his or her efforts . It is linked with ease of learning, simplicity, clarity, and understandability of the technology . Both these constructs are closely related since an easy-to-use technology is perceived to be more useful . The available studies have described perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use as two major behavioral beliefs that are the fundamental factors for predicting user acceptance of a technology . Given the above, the following hypothesis is proposed in respect of the Indian SMEs: H8: perceived usefulness will positively influence the intention of SMEs to adopt blockchain technology in supply chains H9: perceived ease of use will positively influence the intention of SMEs to adopt blockchain technology in supply chains
4.5. Hypothesis Development-Environmental Context
The environmental context explores the regulatory support and vendor support for adopting blockchain technology in supply chains by the Indian SMEs.
Regulatory support refers to policies and laws that play an important role in promoting the adoption of new technology . Blockchain technology introduces concepts like cryptographic signatures and smart contracts, which are not addressed by the existing regulations . Thus, the advent of technology calls for the review and resolution of legal issues, and the potential adopters may be more inclined to the technology if the regulatory environment is favorable [13, 54, 59].
Vendor support is vital for the successful implementation of new technology . Vendor support is manifested in terms of security controls, data availability , user training, technical support , and no threat of vendor locking . Hence, vendor support can positively influence the intention of users to adopt the new technology [9, 53].
Based on the previous discussion, the following hypotheses follow: H10: regulatory support will positively influence the intention of SMEs to adopt blockchain technology in supply chains H11: vendor support will positively influence the intention of SMEs to adopt blockchain technology in supply chains
5. Materials and Methods
The present study has used quantitative research that involved data collection through personal interviews and online surveys. For this purpose, a survey instrument in the form of a structured and pretested questionnaire was developed. Furthermore, both primary and secondary data sources were used in the study.
5.1. Sampling and Data Collection
To collect secondary data, the relevant research papers, articles, and other publications have been reviewed. The survey method has been used to collect primary data. The SMEs selected for the study consisted of enterprises having membership of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Chandigarh in India. CII is a nongovernment, not-for-profit, industry-led, and industry-managed organization with a membership of over 300,000 enterprises including SMEs across India . CII Chandigarh is a regional arm of CII in India. CII regularly organizes training workshops and seminars on new technologies for its members to enhance their competitiveness. Hence, it is expected that member firms of CII are conversant with the latest technologies like blockchain.
The SMEs chosen for the study based on the CII Chandigarh database belonged to three northern states/union territories of India, namely, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Chandigarh. The owners/partners of the selected SMEs were approached with a request to authorize the relevant supply chain functional head for sharing the required data. In case the supply chain functional head was not available, the SME owner/partner was requested to participate in the survey on behalf of the SME. From the available CII Chandigarh database, the list of SMEs that could potentially employ blockchain in their supply chains was initially prepared. This list was finalized based on discussion with academicians and practitioners in the area of supply chain management. Only manufacturing SMEs were covered in the survey. Thus, the final list contained a total of 498 SMEs for data collection.
A Google form with a questionnaire link was sent to the e-mail IDs of the respondents. The questionnaire link was hosted online from 15th September 2020 to 15th October 2020. The details of the research objectives were shared with the respondents to seek their consent to participate in the study. The participation was kept voluntary with follow-up emails at frequent intervals by the researcher with a request to participate in the survey. Some of the participants were also approached using contacts.
Out of the total 498 SMEs approached for the data collection, only 228 responded with filled questionnaires. Due to the illegible responses or missing data, twelve filled questionnaires were rejected. Hence, the final sample size for the study was 216. The sample description indicating organization type, industry type, employee strength, etc., is presented in Table 1.
Annual turnover range (organization type)
Electrical and electronic products/components
Pharmaceuticals and healthcare
Food and agro products
Chemical and paints
Textile and garments
Stationary and paper
Less than 20
Between 21 and 40
Between 41 and 60
Between 61 and 80
Between 81 and 100
More than 100
Plan to adopt blockchain technology in supply chains
Already adopted blockchain technology in supply chains
Intend to adopt blockchain technology in supply chains in the next 1–3 years
Not planning to use cloud computing in the near future