Digitalization, Innovation and Sustainability


Special issue of Sustainability; Deadline 30 Jun 2021

POSTING TYPE: Calls: Journals

Author: Thijs Broekhuizen & David Langley


Call for Papers

Digitalization, Innovation and Sustainability

Deadline for submission: 30 June 2021

Overview and purpose of the special issue

Digital technologies, such as social media, the internet of things, data analytics, blockchain, 3D printing, robotics, and artificial intelligence, are the basis for vast numbers of product, service, process, and business model innovations that bring about significant transitions in the ways that industries, organizations, and people behave. It is no exaggeration to state that these technologies (and the corresponding growth of digital data and analytical techniques) are transforming economies, societies and our relationship with the natural world. However, as these innovations increasingly pervade every aspect of our daily lives, we urgently need research that explores and explains digitalization, how it drives innovation, and what the effects are on sustainability. This Special Issue seeks to advance scholarly understanding of how digitalization, innovation, and sustainability are intertwined, highlight insightful examples of best and worst practices, and provide theoretically and empirically grounded recommendations for improving implementation and impact.

The focus of this special issue is the interrelationships between digitalization, innovation, and sustainability. Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Sustainable digital technologies that reduce negative environmental impact of products during production, distribution, and use
  • Sustainability-enhancing digital innovations that reduce the negative environmental impact of other products and processes;
  • Data-driven providence, and the tracking of materials through supply chains;
  • Digital and innovative solutions for enabling sustainability impact assessment
  • Digitalization as a driver of more eco-friendly and new sustainable business models (servitization, product-as-a-service, peer sharing, zero-waste, etc.)
  • Development of business models in digitalized ecosystems of multiple stakeholders where value is co-created, and multiple value components are shared);
  • Innovation management processes (both digitally-enabled and non-digital) and theories to enhance sustainability
  • The role of digital innovations in hybrid organizational and ecosystem strategies (i.e. aimed at both financial and ecological benefit for the firm and ecosystem)

We address this call-for-papers to a wide range of academic disciplines with a shared interest in advancing our understanding on digital innovations and sustainability, including strategic management, innovation and organization, business ethics, entrepreneurship, information systems, and more. We are particularly open to submissions that adopt an interdisciplinary approach. We encourage the submission of ground-breaking empirical studies and conceptual manuscripts that are well-grounded in academic literature. Of particular interest are submissions using forward-looking approaches, including design science, simulations and thought experiments.

Preparation and submission of paper and review process

Papers submitted must not have been published, accepted for publication, or presently be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Submissions should be uploaded on Sustainability’s homepage through the Editorial management system. Authors need to upload their paper using the dropdown box for the special issue on Sustainability: Digitalization, Innovation and Sustainability. For guidelines, visit

Suitable papers will be subjected to a double-blind review; hence, authors must not identify themselves in the body of their paper. Manuscripts falling within the scope of the special issue


and of sufficient quality will enter the review process.

Important dates

Deadline for submission: 30 June 2021

Guest editors

  • Dr. Thijs L.J. Broekhuizen (, Associate Professor Innovation Management at the Department of Innovation Management & Strategy, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.
  • Prof. dr. David J. Langley (, Professor of Internet, Innovation & Strategy at the Department of Innovation Management & Strategy, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.