Governance and control in distributed ledgers: Understanding the challenges facing blockchain technology in financial services

Markos Zachariadis, Garrick Hileman, Susan Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As blockchain platforms are becoming increasingly noticeable in financial services and beyond, questions arise regarding their suitability to compete with or replace existing payment systems and marketplaces and redesign the financial infrastructures of the future. Prominent among these concerns are issues around governance and control in distributed ledgers: How are distributed ledger technologies governed? Can blockchains address complex administration problems? What key issues of note for practitioners and academics have emerged thus far? In this paper we aim to review the existing governance practices of established or popular blockchain and decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) systems with a view to understanding how they hold up in times of crises. What questions are raised when they are compromised or faced consensus challenges in coordinating action especially around control and accountability? We use a translational process, generating focal insights about present concerns from the reference point of completed academic studies and extensive practitioner consultation. Rather than adopting a declarative approach attempting to provide all the answers, we draw insights from the IT platform governance literature to offer a critical perspective for asking the right questions around key governance issues in financial infrastructure such as decision rights, control mechanisms, and incentives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-117
Number of pages13
JournalInformation & Organization
Issue number2
Early online date9 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Financial infrastructures
  • Blockchain
  • Distributed ledger technology
  • Distributed autonomous organization
  • Payment Systems
  • Governance
  • Ethereum
  • Bitcoin
  • Cryptocurrencies


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