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    Digital fashion revolutions: supply chain transparency, digitalization and the non-disclosure paradox

    Heim, Hilde (2022) Digital fashion revolutions: supply chain transparency, digitalization and the non-disclosure paradox. Fashion Practice: the journal of design, creative process and the fashion industry, 14 (3). pp. 329-351. ISSN 1756-9370

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    The emergence of digital technology as a ‘cure-all’ for sustainable practice has captured the imagination of observers and entrepreneurs alike. Among these technologies, blockchain has been cited as the ideal tool to optimize supply chain transparency. However, despite the abundance of effusively disseminated information in the media, the lack of blockchain applications that are universally accessible, and their negligible uptake raises doubts as to its utility. In particular, small to medium enterprises (SMEs) have for several reasons been slow to adopt blockchain technologies. ‘Digital hesitancy’; lack of common data standards; complex and tedious data collection and transfer; immaturity of the technology; no effective universal platform; lack of resources; and reluctance to share data with perceived competitors are common obstacles. This study explores one of these barriers to adoption, that is, the reluctance to disclose supply chain information to potential competitors. Taking a qualitative approach, the study analyses the current perception of blockchain enabled supply chain transparency through interviews with small scale fashion firms and technology start-ups. Applying a lens of technology adoption theories, the study seeks to understand how supply chain transparency might be satisfactorily managed and even accelerated through technology uptake. A misunderstanding of the software’s capabilities is evident. Many firms seem unaware that the software can be applied to provide managed access to information—arguably providing an advantage over extant transparency measures such as public self disclosure or reliance on third party certifications. This study identifies that because of lack of ‘education’, firms are ill-informed and under-utilizing technologies that are potentially more advantageous than current analogue approaches—that could circumvent the information disclosure paradox.

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