Blockchain, one of the convergence technologies representing the Fourth Industrial Revolution era, is actively being introduced in the fields of finance, medical care, and logistics and distribution. Blockchain is a distributed data storage technology that stores data in blocks and connects them in chain form, replicating and storing them on numerous computers at the same time. It is also called a “public ledger.” Transaction records are sent to all the users participating in the transaction, without keeping them on a centralized server, and it is ensured that every transaction is free from data forgery or tampering by sharing the pertinent data among the users and allowing these to be compared with one another.
Blockchain is also actively being promoted and introduced in the shipping and port field. In maritime transportation, which accounts for the majority of logistics transportation, the cost of handling trade-related documents is 20% of the total cost, and such task is inefficiently managed. Through the introduction of blockchain, it can be expected to become transparent and cost-cutting, with reduced disputes and increased dispute resolution cases as well as fewer cases of various types of fraud. Although blockchain has a high potential for utilization in the shipping and port field, the speed of its introduction in such field has not been accelerated as its effectiveness and safety have yet to be fully verified. Blockchain is currently known to the public only as bitcoin, and due to its vagueness, its introduction to certain fields as an innovation creates anxiety on the part of many, leading them to resist such innovation, thus hindering its wide usage.
There has been insufficient research to date on innovation resistance, which serves as an obstacle to the successful introduction of blockchain in the shipping and port field, although there have been various studies of late on blockchain acceptance in academia. This study was conducted to investigate the degree and nature of the resistance to the introduction of blockchain in the shipping and port field on the part of many of its prospective users, so as to urge them to accept such innovation and to facilitate its successful introduction in the aforementioned field.
This study was conducted as follows. First, the concept and characteristics of blockchain and the current status of its introduction in the shipping and port field sought to be understood through a review of the previous studies on blockchain. Second, the factors affecting the resistance to the introduction of blockchain in the shipping and port field were derived based on TAM (technology acceptance model), DOI (diffusion of innovation), the consumer characteristics theory, and the innovation resistance theory. Third, the research model to be used was empirically verified through a questionnaire survey among the workers in the shipping and port field.
In this study, a research model was set up based on TAM. Seven items were selected as potential variables falling under three categories: relative benefits, compatibility, and perceived risks (variables related to the innovation characteristics); attitudes towards the existing products, innovativeness, and self-efficacy (variables related to the consumer characteristics); and cost rationality (variable related to the economic characteristics). Eight hypotheses were set and tested in this study: seven hypotheses to confirm the causal relationship between each of the aforementioned seven variables and the resistance to the introduction of blockchain in the shipping and port field, and one hypothesis to confirm the causal relationship between the said resistance and the blockchain usage intention. The survey for hypothesis testing was conducted for about 3 weeks among individuals engaged in or part of container terminal operations, shipping lines, public agencies and companies, inland transportation, international freight forwarders (3PL), and warehouse storage companies. A total of 300 questionnaires were distributed, and 239 valid accomplished questionnaires were collected. SPSS 21.0 was used for demographic analysis, and SmartPLS 3.0 was used for hypothesis testing and reliability and validity analysis.
The results of this study are summarized as follows. First, the analysis of the three hypotheses on the innovation characteristics and innovation resistance showed that there was a negative (-) causal relationship between the relative advantage of introducing blockchain to the shipping and port field and the resistance to such innovation, and a positive (+) causal relationship between the perceived risk of its introduction and the resistance to such innovation. On the other hand, the causal relationship between compatibility and the innovation resistance was not verified. Second, the results of testing the three hypotheses on the consumer characteristics and innovation resistance were as follows. First, the more favorable the attitude towards the existing products was, the higher the resistance to the innovation, and the more innovative the users were, the lower their innovation resistance. On the other hand, no significant causal relationship was found between self-efficacy and innovation resistance. Third, in the case of cost rationality, a variable related to the economic characteristics, a lower degree of innovation resistance was found in the users who felt that the cost of the operation being undertaken was reduced through the introduction of blockchain. Finally, it was confirmed that the higher the innovation resistance was, the lower the intent to use the innovation.
The implications of this study are as follows. First, the study is scholastically meaningful in that it deals with the two aspects of resistance and acceptance through a study of innovation resistance, a negative aspect that has not been dealt with in the previous studies related to the introduction of blockchain in the shipping and port field. In the practical aspect, this study confirmed the negative effect of innovation resistance on the intention to use the innovation, suggesting that the management of the innovation resistance is essential for the successful spread of blockchain. Therefore, efforts should be made to emphasize the functional benefits, innovativeness, and cost rationality of blockchain by establishing various channels for sharing information on it so as to control the resistance to its introduction in the shipping and port field. Also, as the perceived risks of blockchain introduction to the shipping and port field and the prospective users’ attitudes towards the existing products have been verified as negative factors for innovation resistance, it is believed that efforts should be made to come up with policies for ensuring information security, or with ways to dissolve the prospective users’ reluctance to embrace new technologies.