Special Issue in International Journal of Information Management
Sustainability: New insights into the role of information systems and digitisation
Journal: International Journal of Information Management
Deadline for submission: 15th of December 2022
Editors: Savvas Papagiannidis (University of Newcastle, UK) & Davit Marikyan (University of Bristol, UK)
For more information: SPECIAL ISSUE IN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INFORMATION MANAGEMENT.
Climate change has been one of the critical challenges of the 21st century. With the need for a global response to the ongoing ecological deterioration, the recent UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 (COP26) brought together politicians, business leaders and concerned citizens to discuss the opportunities and possible ways to rebuild or transform carbon-intensive sectors and economies (Dwivedi et al., 2022). The outcome of the conference was the Glasgow Climate Pact, suggesting accelerated action in relation to carbon emission mitigation, adaptation to the consequences of the climate impact, investment, and cross-country and cross-industry collaboration. The achievement of sustainability goals can hardly be imagined without the role of information systems. Digitalisation and the transition to zero-emission technology are assumed to be one of the key solutions to slow the pace at which global warming is happening (Dwivedi et al., 2022).
IS can be the catalyst for sustainability through its indirect and direct implications for the environment (Melville, 2010; Papagiannidis & Marikyan, 2021). The direct impact is realised when current technology is replaced by its sustainable alternatives (Jenkin et al., 2011; Simmonds & Bhattacherjee, 2012), such as energy-efficient hardware and data servers. For example, the replacement of old phones and laptops by sustainable ones decreases energy consumption and the time required to operate technology, thus positively contributing to environmental sustainability (Watson et al., 2010). Multiple IS solutions, such as smart cities, smart manufacturing, smart offices, smart home and other smart technologies, are indirectly beneficial for the planet. They deliver various services in a sustainable way, as they require significantly less energy to function, they can sense the changes in the environment and promote pro-environmental behaviour by feeding back the data about resource consumption (Marikyan et al., 2019; Neirotti et al., 2014; Papagiannidis et al., 2020; Papagiannidis & Marikyan, 2020, 2021; Pee & Pan, 2021). The development and production of such technology have been increasingly fuelling scholarship on the role of IS in environmental sustainability.
The current scientific evidence on IS and sustainability draws on design and behavioural research. From the design perspective, researchers work on the development and utility of sustainable technology (Aarras et al., 2014; Vezzoli, 2018). As technology has been the driving force of productivity, the dominant body of literature has been about the exploration of the capability of industrial and enterprise ICT to solve environmental problems and drive organisational performance (de Camargo Fiorini & Jabbour, 2017). From the behavioural perspective, there are plentiful works exploring the drivers of the utilisation and the interaction with technologies which are beneficial for the environment (e.g. smart homes, smart manufacturing). Those works explored the predictors of adoption, measured mostly by hedonic/utilitarian values, beliefs about operating technology and potential use outcomes (Mulcahy et al., 2019; Wunderlich et al., 2019). However, given the diversity of technologies and their capabilities, the current research still falls short when it comes to providing sufficient understanding about their applications/implications for the achievement of sustainability goals and the alignment of users’ behaviour with them.
Specifically, there are a few under-explored areas that require more attention. For example, in the research on the adoption of environmentally sustainable technology, the dominant interest is placed on technology adoption factors (Canziani & MacSween, 2021; Marikyan et al., 2021). Hence, the role of sustainability aspects of utilisation has been peripheral for researchers. Identifying the factors that facilitate the adoption of sustainable technologies, beyond technology adoption theories, can be an important aspect for understanding the individuals’ behaviour when it comes to the use of such technologies (Wunderlich et al., 2019). In the post-adoption stage, it is not clear whether the promised sustainable benefits meet individuals’ expectations. Also, although it was confirmed that ICT can help lower the consumption of resources (electricity, water, gas, and waste generation) (Marikyan et al., 2019), whether individuals follow the best practices to enable those benefits is an under-researched topic. Therefore, the assessments should not just be about the sustainability potential of technology but also user behaviour and habits. The impact of innovative systems and their applications needs further investigation too. For example, one emerging technological solution, the blockchain, has been growing in popularity in the supply chain, finance, and organisation management due to the capability of this technology to disintermediate transactions, enabling the efficiency and security of data (Abbas et al., 2020; Ali et al., 2020; Notheisen et al., 2017; Rimba et al., 2020; Schmidt & Wagner, 2019). However, the use of blockchain-based systems requires computational power and consumes a lot of energy, which increases carbon emissions (Dwivedi et al., 2022; Schinckus, 2020). This example, however, should not devalue the potential role of innovative technologies powered by IoT and AI, in developing solutions that could help in fighting climate change. Such solutions could be used in dynamic climate change assessment in areas such as environmental quality and monitoring, sustainable energy, agricultural systems, cultural preservation, and sustainable mining (Salam, 2020). Given this, future research should consider the duality of innovative technology capabilities and their impacts on the environment. In addition, the growing adoption of technology contributes to the increase in energy consumption levels, greenhouse gases and electronic waste (Dwivedi et al., 2022; Rene et al., 2021), which needs to be examined empirically in the long term. The above demonstrates a need to provide a deeper insight into the role of ICT in addressing climate change.
This call invites studies that would provide evidence on the relationship between information systems and environmental sustainability. Qualitative and quantitative empirical studies that offer insights into the selected areas are equally welcomed by the Guest Editors.The Special Issue would accept papers focusing on topics including, but not limited to, the following:
- Negative effect of ICT on environmental benefits.
- Positive effect of ICT on environmental benefits.
- Adoption and use of sustainable technology both in organisational and private contexts.
- Post-adoption interaction with sustainable technology.
- The role of emerging technologies (including but not limited to smart technologies, AI, IoT) in environmental sustainability.
- Industry 4.0 and sustainability.
- The effect of rapid digitalisation on environmental sustainability.
- Conditions facilitating the formation of pro-environmental behaviour.
- Challenges when it comes to the use of sustainable technology.
- Spill-over effects of pro-environmental behaviour.
- The role of government (policy makers), organisations and individuals when it comes to support for using sustainable technologies.
- The role of ecosystems and infrastructure on the environmentally sustainable use of technology.