Abstract

Blockchain is an open distributed ledger likely to influence future data transactions and human interactions. As blockchain adoption becomes a reality in many industries, an ethical perspective is crucial to guide researchers and stakeholders on this technology's responsible use and implementation. However, current research on blockchain ethics is still at an early stage and is highly fragmented among different disciplines. This timely literature review investigates the current state of blockchain ethics research in the Information Systems (IS) and Information Management (IM) domains and presents a thematic classification as a basis for a critical assessment of blockchain ethics. This study also provides a theoretical grounding for the development of blockchain ethics as a standalone subject and identifies areas within blockchain ethics that would benefit from further development. Overall, results showed that most studies on blockchain ethics are context-specific and perceive this technology as a solution to ethical issues within a specific field. We found that there is a need for a broader conceptualization of blockchain ethics as the implicit and explicit consequences of adopting this technology have not yet been developed.

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