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The Buzz of Blockchain: Hype vs. Reality in France

Published 02 Mar 2021
Reference 6635
Topic Strategy
Region Europe
Summary

The case guides students to resolve a number of questions when embracing a new technology, with a focus on Blockchain, a radical new technology that has attracted a lot of hype although the adoption rate remains low among firms. Consequently, there are few successful business applications and many challenges, uncertainties and risks to be overcome. The case emphasizes two aspects of Blockchain. How to adapt a business’s involvement with the technology to (i) the pattern of its development over time, (ii) to the geographic concentration of investment and development, certain locations being at the hub of development. As a framework for these issues, the case considers a start-up entrepreneur based in Paris as a means to help students/executives consider their own context. Paris is not at the forefront of Blockchain development, but neither is it on the periphery – which should inform their views of whether and how to embrace the technology. The case prompts participants to think about non-crypto-currency-related applications, and how far their options re influenced by the uncertain path of technology development and their own location in the broader global and local network. The issues addressed in the case also apply more generally to executives in large firms considering investment in emerging technologies such as Blockchain.

Teaching objectives

1. Understand the typical cycle of development for a new technology, including how it moves from being ‘radically interesting’ to disruptive, and how uncertain its development may be in terms of the timing and evolution within the broader Blockchain technology domain, and how firms in turn adapt their approach depending on the stage of development. 2. Take the perspective of an executive away from the hub of development of a much-hyped technology (Paris) who is interested in its adoption, including how to adapt the approach based on distance to the hub (where cutting-edge development is more likely), and domains of application that allow deep understanding of the context. 3. Provide insights into the development of Blockchain, including key aspects of the technology and how it is deployed by different stakeholders.

Keywords
  • Ecosystem
  • Blockchain
  • Start-up
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Disruptive technologies
  • Digital
  • Hype cycle
  • France
  • Supply chains
  • Q12021