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Platforms and Digital Transformation for Sustainability

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (22 July 2023) | Viewed by 29312

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University, New York, NY 10023, USA
Interests: digital transformation; digital platforms; network effects; economics of technology; dynamics of complex systems
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The world faces many messy problems and challenges related to environmental, societal, and economic sustainability (see the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals [1]). This raises the question of how we could mitigate or solve some of those problems by leveraging the power of digital platforms and Digital Transformation (DT).

We call for research on platforms, digital transformation, and sustainability and social impact. 

This Special Issue emphasizes the effective use of digital technologies that enable innovative business models, strategies, and initiatives contributing to sustainability and social impact. Examples include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Web3, and other emerging or exponential technologies.

Submissions should address well-defined challenges and adhere to high-quality research standards, whilst generating novel business and policy insights. Interdisciplinary research, systems research and research that appreciates the complexity of business and social systems are especially encouraged. A list of proposed keywords follows, but articles on other relevant topics are also welcome.

Reference:

  1. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs THE 17 GOALS | Sustainable Development Available online: https://sdgs.un.org/goals (accessed on Feb 8, 2022).

Prof. Dr. Evangelos Katsamakas
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Platforms / Digital Transformation (DT) and common/greater good
  • Platforms/DT for development
  • Platforms/DT and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
  • Platforms/DT and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), ESG
  • Platforms/DT and environmental sustainability
  • Platforms/DT and social impact
  • Platforms/DT and social innovation
  • Platforms/DT and ethics
  • Platforms/DT and complexity
  • AI, IoT, Blockchain, Web3, digital innovation, and social impact
  • Platforms/DT solving wicked/messy problems
  • Open source and social impact
  • Digital Entrepreneurship (startups) for the common good
  • Business value of platforms/DT
  • Platforms/DT and transformation of higher education
  • Operations management and supply chains for the common good

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Editorial

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6 pages, 197 KiB  
Editorial
From Digital to AI Transformation for Sustainability
by Evangelos Katsamakas
Sustainability 2024, 16(8), 3293; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16083293 - 15 Apr 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 729
Abstract
Sustainability and its connection to digital technology have attracted significant interest in business [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Platforms and Digital Transformation for Sustainability)

Research

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20 pages, 1674 KiB  
Article
esg2go: A Method to Reduce Bias, Improve Coherence, and Increase Practicality of ESG Rating and Reporting
by Isa Cakir, Philipp Aerni, Manfred Max Bergman and Benjamin Cakir
Sustainability 2023, 15(24), 16872; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152416872 - 15 Dec 2023
Viewed by 2620
Abstract
Rating agencies that assess a company’s environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) impact have been subject to public and academic scrutiny due to divergent and often biased rating outcomes. Concurrently, an evolving regulatory environment mandates publicly listed companies to report on ESG and [...] Read more.
Rating agencies that assess a company’s environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) impact have been subject to public and academic scrutiny due to divergent and often biased rating outcomes. Concurrently, an evolving regulatory environment mandates publicly listed companies to report on ESG and climate emissions, taking into account supply chain risks as well. As a result, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly asked as suppliers to present a credible sustainability certificate. The esg2go rating and reporting system aims at improving the credibility and practicality of corporate sustainability assessment. It was jointly developed with its users and relevant stakeholders and is based on a calibrated benchmarking system from verifiable data. The rating method enables the measurement and comparison of sector- and firm size-specific sustainability performance. Its underlying adaptive parametrization is derived from a coherent and pragmatic definition of SME sustainability as the ‘ability to co-exist’. Our data analyses indicate that our scoring function is able to minimize bias and deliver a fair comparability between SMEs. We conclude that esg2go represents a pragmatic and innovative approach to enhance the fairness and accuracy of corporate sustainability assessment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Platforms and Digital Transformation for Sustainability)
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20 pages, 466 KiB  
Article
Exploring the Role of Information Technology in Supporting Sustainability Efforts in Saudi Arabia
by Ashwag Madkhali and Seedwell T. M. Sithole
Sustainability 2023, 15(16), 12375; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151612375 - 15 Aug 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2288
Abstract
This study examines how information technology (IT) contributes to sustainability endeavours in Saudi Arabia. The process of equipping companies to effectively leverage information technology for sustainability initiatives has remained a challenge, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Through an analysis of four case studies, we [...] Read more.
This study examines how information technology (IT) contributes to sustainability endeavours in Saudi Arabia. The process of equipping companies to effectively leverage information technology for sustainability initiatives has remained a challenge, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Through an analysis of four case studies, we examine how technology has been implemented by Saudi Arabian companies to advance sustainability goals. The findings demonstrate a notable shift towards green initiatives in the country, with the adoption of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and artificial intelligence (AI). These technologies have been instrumental in enhancing energy efficiency and waste reduction. The study highlights the significance of policy interventions and public–private partnerships in achieving both environmental sustainability and economic growth. To ensure the widespread adoption of sustainable practices, it is crucial for the government to focus on building digital capacity in companies and removing technological barriers. The case studies of four companies serve as illustrative examples of sustainable practices and the corresponding technological support in Saudi Arabia. The research underscores the importance of leveraging IT and collaboration to accelerate progress toward the nation’s sustainability goals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Platforms and Digital Transformation for Sustainability)
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15 pages, 1094 KiB  
Article
Societal Impacts of Higher Education Research: From ‘Publish or Perish’ to ‘Publish and Prosper’ in Business School Scholarship
by David Steingard and Kathleen Rodenburg
Sustainability 2023, 15(13), 10718; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151310718 - 7 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1880
Abstract
This paper introduces a transformative systems-level framework for understanding the interplay of institutional, cultural, and systemic dynamics influencing the societal impacts of academic research. We introduce and apply the Societal Impacts of Research Institutional Ecosystem (SIRIE) framework to business school scholarship and academic [...] Read more.
This paper introduces a transformative systems-level framework for understanding the interplay of institutional, cultural, and systemic dynamics influencing the societal impacts of academic research. We introduce and apply the Societal Impacts of Research Institutional Ecosystem (SIRIE) framework to business school scholarship and academic research in higher education. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as SIRIE’s normative ethical framework to benchmark: institutional mission; accreditation bodies’ compliance requirements; faculty tenure and promotion research expectations; the influence of rankings and ratings; and journal quality metrics. Our framework acknowledges the role the Anthropocene Epoch plays in contributing to contemporary social and environmental problems. We argue that recalcitrant institutional forces in academia neutralize the promise of academic scholarship to galvanize meaningful societal impacts. We assert that the contemporary state of higher education research is unfortunately dominated by a “publish or perish” mentality. This narrative produces academic research that is decontextualized from today’s exigent “grand challenges” related to poverty, climate, equity, health, peace, environment, etc., as well as transformative solutions for a sustainable future. By exploring an alternative paradigm for academic research through SIRIE and the SDGs—“publish and prosper”—we detail how academic research can meaningfully contribute to change the world for the better. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Platforms and Digital Transformation for Sustainability)
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18 pages, 1766 KiB  
Article
Research on the Openness of Digital Platforms Based on Entropy-Weighted TOPSIS: Evidence from China
by Wei Fu, Jie Sun and Xiaodong Lee
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3322; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043322 - 10 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1913
Abstract
Regarding digital platforms in recent years, the abuse of a platform’s dominant position, applications monitoring user behaviour, the difficulty of exiting digital platforms, and the inability of users to transfer data on platforms have become increasingly acute, which makes the evaluation of the [...] Read more.
Regarding digital platforms in recent years, the abuse of a platform’s dominant position, applications monitoring user behaviour, the difficulty of exiting digital platforms, and the inability of users to transfer data on platforms have become increasingly acute, which makes the evaluation of the openness of digital platforms extremely urgent. This paper applies the relatively objective entropy-weighted TOPSIS method to construct a digital platform openness index (DPOI) to evaluate the openness of 22 digital platforms in China. The research found that there are certain institutional constraints and obstacles in the access, transaction, exit, and transfer of different types of digital platform, and it is necessary to sustainably improve the openness of digital platforms to bring convenience to users in the future. Our results not only update the practical data on the openness of emerging digital platforms, but also enrich the literature in the field of digital platform openness, which has significant implications for evaluating the openness of digital platforms in emerging markets such as China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Platforms and Digital Transformation for Sustainability)
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Review

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18 pages, 2529 KiB  
Review
Which Industrial Sectors Are Affected by Artificial Intelligence? A Bibliometric Analysis of Trends and Perspectives
by Lorena Espina-Romero, José Gregorio Noroño Sánchez, Humberto Gutiérrez Hurtado, Helga Dworaczek Conde, Yessenia Solier Castro, Luz Emérita Cervera Cajo and Jose Rio Corredoira
Sustainability 2023, 15(16), 12176; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151612176 - 9 Aug 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3633
Abstract
In recent times, artificial intelligence (AI) has been generating a significant impact in various industry sectors, which implies that companies must be ready to adjust to this promising start and progress in the direction of sustainability. The objective of this paper was to [...] Read more.
In recent times, artificial intelligence (AI) has been generating a significant impact in various industry sectors, which implies that companies must be ready to adjust to this promising start and progress in the direction of sustainability. The objective of this paper was to analyze the industrial sectors impacted by artificial intelligence during the period 2018–2022. The methodology consisted of applying a quantitative and bibliometric approach to a collection of 164 manuscripts indexed in Scopus with the help of statistical packages such as RStudio version 4.3.0, VOSviewer version 1.6.19, and Microsoft Excel 365. The results indicate that artificial intelligence is having a growing impact in sectors such as technology, finance, healthcare, the environment, and construction. Geographically, the most impacted sectors are in Europe and Asia, while the least impacted are in the Americas, Africa, and Oceania. It is proposed to conduct future research using AI in power quality (PQ), energy storage systems (ESSs) and hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) systems to contribute, firstly, in the transition to a more sustainable economy, followed by a decrease in dependence on fossil fuels. This research contributes to existing knowledge and paves the way for future exploration of qualitative aspects and emerging trends in the field of artificial intelligence influence in industrial sectors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Platforms and Digital Transformation for Sustainability)
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25 pages, 3246 KiB  
Review
Greenwashing, Sustainability Reporting, and Artificial Intelligence: A Systematic Literature Review
by Wayne Moodaley and Arnesh Telukdarie
Sustainability 2023, 15(2), 1481; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15021481 - 12 Jan 2023
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 14356
Abstract
The rise of stakeholder interest globally in sustainable business practices has resulted in a rise in demands from stakeholders that companies report on the environmental and social impacts of their business activities. In certain cases, however, companies have resorted to the practice of [...] Read more.
The rise of stakeholder interest globally in sustainable business practices has resulted in a rise in demands from stakeholders that companies report on the environmental and social impacts of their business activities. In certain cases, however, companies have resorted to the practice of providing inaccurate disclosures regarding sustainability as part of their corporate communications and sustainability reporting—commonly referred to as “greenwashing”. Concurrently, technological improvements in artificial intelligence have presented the means to rapidly and accurately analyze large volumes of text-based information, such as that contained in sustainability reports. Despite the possible impacts of artificial intelligence and machine learning on the fields of greenwashing and sustainability reporting, no literature to date has comprehensively and holistically addressed the interrelationship between these three important topics. This paper contributes to the body of knowledge by using bibliometric and thematic analyses to systematically analyze the interrelationship between those fields. The analysis is also used to conjecture a conceptual and thematic framework for the use of artificial intelligence with machine learning in relation to greenwashing and company sustainability reporting. This paper finds that the use of artificial intelligence in relation to greenwashing, and greenwashing within sustainability reporting, is an underexplored research field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Platforms and Digital Transformation for Sustainability)
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