Scientific article
Open access

Three lines model paradigm shift: a blockchain-based control framework

Published inJournal of applied accounting research, vol. 25, no. 1, p. 149-170
Publication date2023-06-19
First online date2023-06-19


While the three lines model (TLM) provides an organizational structure to execute risk and control duties, research and practice show limitations in the model's implementation. These limitations result in governance issues. Such issues, together with control weaknesses, could be addressed by leveraging properties of distribution, transparency, and immutability of blockchain technology. To this end, in this paper the authors propose a conceptual control framework based on blockchain technology to augment control practice.


The design of the resulting blockchain-based control framework (BBCF) and its prototype, based on the design science research methodology (DSRM), is presented and discussed in terms of the potential impact in the context of the identified problems within the TLM.


One potential outcome of BBCF could be to redefine the scope and boundaries of some of the activities in audit and control practices from a more static to a more dynamic and prospective role. In a larger context of improving governance practices, the BBCF could set the path for a more inclusive and participatory interaction between the different governance actors of an organization.

Research limitations/implications

However, this assumes that blockchain is more widely adopted despite its complexity and rigidity.

Practical implications

BBCF covering both a conceptual model design and a reference implementation provides an innovation in audit and control. BBCF could include all relevant stakeholders who have an interest in corporate governance and control activities, including the regulators.


The contribution intends to serve both as a starting point for discussing the evolution of audit and control practice based on blockchain technology, as well as an initial actionable prototype for experimentation and further development.

  • Blockchain
  • Audit
  • Internal control
  • Lines of defence
Citation (ISO format)
BRENDER, Nathalie et al. Three lines model paradigm shift: a blockchain-based control framework. In: Journal of applied accounting research, 2023, vol. 25, n° 1, p. 149–170. doi: 10.1108/JAAR-06-2022-0143
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0967-5426

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