The perceived relationship between digitalization and ecological, economic, and social sustainability

Barbara Brenner, Barbara Hartl

Publikation: Wissenschaftliche FachzeitschriftOriginalbeitrag in FachzeitschriftBegutachtung

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Sustainability, in terms of ecological, economic, and social sustainable development, and the advancing digitalization represent some of the most substantial societal challenges today. However, little is known about how different actors and decision-makers perceive the relationship of those two challenges. In our paper, by building upon framing theory and social representations theory, we address that gap by investigating how different actors perceive the interrelationship between digitalization and ecological, economic, and social sustainability. Such research is particularly important because understandings of digitalization and sustainability determine how different actors, including managers and policymakers, act in response to those imperatives. Following a multi-method approach, we combined media analysis with two experimental studies examining how various actors frame the relationship between digitalization and sustainability in media discourses and which dimension of sustainability—ecological, economic, or social—dominates. Building upon these results, the studies assess whether the extent of digitalization affects the perception of those three dimensions. Among our findings, perceptions of ecological and economic sustainability but not social sustainability seem to be affected by the extent of digitalization. For future research, those findings indicate the need for a more nuanced view on sustainability that accounts for its different dimensions, especially the social dimension and its relationship with digitalization. Beyond that, because the perceived link between digitalization and ecological, economic, and social sustainability guides how various actors, including managers and policymakers, respond to those imperatives, our work also has substantial practical implications as well.
FachzeitschriftJournal of Cleaner Production
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2021

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