Trust in sustainable interorganisational cost management: the impact of blockchain

Grantham Scholar Matthew Hinchliffe’s project integrates supply chain management accounting with digital infrastructure.

Matthew Hinchliffe

Matthew is a Supply Chain Management MSc graduate from the University of Sheffield. His MSc research was into the establishment of 100% recyclable, closed-loop, aluminium supply chains.  Findings from this project have led to the development of a framework that is useful for all industries and materials. 

He also has an interest in digital technologies and the role that these can have on business strategies. This led to his current PhD, which integrates supply chain management accounting with digital infrastructure. 

Currently a graduate teaching associate, Matthew teaches weekly seminars on management accounting to supply chain management and accounting and finance MSc students. 

The problem

This research aims to address several problems across a variety of domains. 

Firstly, supply chains, especially in the agricultural industry, are often not entirely digital. As a result there are issues in managing costs effectively for each agent within the supply chain.  This is especially prevalent in supply chains where the raw materials are sourced from developing countries.

Secondly, the literature on the technological development of blockchain – which is used in supply chains – is in a state of infancy and thus, has not yet been studied in relation to trust between partners at different stages of the supply chain. 

Finally, there is an inconsistency between the literature in the interorganisational relationship literature, the interorganisational cost management literature and the economics literature, as to how trust is viewed. Because of the inclusion of digital infrastructure and need for economic growth in developing countries, this research contributes to the realisation of SDG 8, and SDG 9.

The project

Three main theories are present in the interorganisational trust literature; (1) resource dependence theory, (2) social embeddedness theory, (3) transaction cost economics. 

All three theories advocate different strategies for managing interorganisational relationships. This research project aims to analyse the relationships between these three theories in relation to interorganisational cost management – specifically, open-book accounting – and evaluate the impact that blockchain-based technology can have in facilitating trust. 

The academic contribution of this research will be twofold. (1) It will develop the concept of trust and investigate its management between partners in supply chain relationships. (2) It will provide an understanding of how the inherent nature of blockchain impacts on all forms of trust.

Most significantly, it will account for the role of blockchain in facilitating inter-organisational cost management, in relation to trust constructs. 

The research will utilise a mixed-methods approach whereby survey data is used alongside a case-study. 

Outreach and impact

Matthew qualified as a primary educator in 2017 with a degree from Sheffield Hallam University. 

The value of teaching pupils is present in his preferred outreach strategies. Matthew has ties to several schools because of his undergraduate degree and throughout the first year of his PhD studies he is designing and conducting lessons that aim to develop key stage 2 pupils’ knowledge of sustainability.

This is done through aligning the pupils’ own personal values with sustainable development goals. Through pupil-led discussion in small groups, pupils will debate their personal sustainability values with each other. Through this outreach pupils will begin to develop and explore their own personal beliefs and values about sustainability. 


You can find Matthew Hinchliffe on Twitter.


Dr Richard Bruce

Grantham Centre Chief Business Advisor


Dr Xue Ming Yuan

SimTech, Singapore