Blockchain technology is often heralded as a panacea for the world’s problems and humanitarian supply chain management (HSCM) has not been spared from the hype. In practice, however, business-driven technologies have high failure rates in disaster settings. In such crisis-induced contexts, various political, cultural, and social aspects influence technology’s development, implementation, and adoption. Using a socio-technical conceptual framework that draws on the social construction of technology, this paper examines the claims around blockchain technology for HSCM and to what extent these are grounded in the realities of post-emergency response and recovery. To do so, it conducts a systematic narrative review of academic literature, grey literature, conference papers, and industry publications. I argue that this analysis reveals an idealized perspective of the technology that largely references commercial supply chain initiatives and fails to adequately contextualize this potential solution within the complex institutional setting of HSCM. Such a perspective can have profound consequences, especially regarding the digital divide and relief-development continuum. Engaging in a more critical exploration is necessary for not only moderating the hype surrounding blockchain technology, but facilitating more informed decisions regarding its use for HSCM.
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