Headline: Aligning digitalisation and sustainable development? Evidence from the analysis of worldviews in sustainability reports

The digitalisation of industrial production and the actual positive and negative consequences for sustainable development are not yet sufficiently understood. This study describes and evaluates the linkages between corporate digitalisation and sustainability management based on qualitative data analysis of sustainability reports of DAX30 companies and applying the concept of sustainability worldviews. The results show a predominate worldview of weak or business-centred sustainability on digitalisation, which could potentially pose a threat to sustainable development. In particular, the focus on customer demands without stakeholder involvement and the worldview of digitalisation as a way of doing ‘business as-usual’ but in a more effective way reproduces unsustainable economic patterns. A holistic sustainable approach on digitalisation should also include possible negative impacts like increased resource consumption which is not the case yet in the studied companies. Different types of ‘sustainability worldviews on digitalisation’ can be distinguished. While ‘Pioneer’ companies can inform policy-making, the other types of ‘Intermediates’, ‘Indecisive’ and ‘Laggards’ could be addressed by information exchange, support and regulation to promote a more sustainable worldview on corporate digitalisation. The ‘Unsustainable’ digitalisation type would be the most difficult to address with soft policy instruments and requires a more regulated approach.

Publication Year
2022
Publication Type
Academic Articles
Citation

Niehoff, S. (2022). Aligning digitalisation and sustainable development? Evidence from the analysis of worldviews in sustainability reports. Business strategy and the environment. doi:10.1002/bse.3043.

DOI
10.1002/bse.3043
Links
https://publications.iass-potsdam.de/rest/items/item_6001686_5/component/file_6…
Staff involved
Projects involved
Digitalisation and Impacts on Sustainability