Blockchain as a general-purpose technology: patentometric evidence of science, technologies and actors

Sercan Ozcan, Serhan Ünalan

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    Blockchain is considered to be a General-Purpose Technology (GPT) by many scholars. However, previous studies offer no proof that Blockchain is a GPT. Thus, approximately 2500 Blockchain-related patent data are investigated by deploying the mixed-method approach, using patentometrics with the support of semi-structured interviews conducted with Blockchain experts. This study investigates six main GPT indicators: pervasiveness, improvement, spawning, prevalence, reallocation of resources and inclusive democratisation. Overall, the results demonstrate that Blockchain has not yet become a GPT, though it already shows some GPT characteristics. There are six specific findings: (1) Blockchain shows pervasive characteristics; (2) Blockchain is capable of further improvement; (3) Blockchain facilitates and encourages the creation of innovations; (4) several countries with strong R&D capabilities, particularly China and the United States (US), are showing the prevalence of Blockchain technology; (5) the Blockchain landscape is witnessing greater participation of “younger” companies; and (6) Blockchain is strongly related to the Information and Communication Technology domain with the potential of inclusivity and democratisation. China and the US have the potential to influence the future development of Blockchain technology. This study is assumed to be of great interest to a broad spectrum of stakeholders, such as scholars and policymakers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number0
    Number of pages18
    JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
    Issue number0
    Early online date13 Aug 2020
    Publication statusEarly online - 13 Aug 2020


    • Blockchain
    • Distributed Ledger Technologies
    • General-Purpose Technology
    • Patentometrics
    • Technology Analysis


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