The need for preparing for the digital transformation is a recurrent theme in the current public and academic debate. What is striking is that these debates are characterized by a strong imagery that praises the opportunities of digitalization in the highest possible terms (often pronounced by IT consultancy firms and IT scholars). Here it sometimes seems that it does not really matter what the problem is – the answer will come from the application of advanced IT technologies. In addition, it is played with the fear, which is amplified by uncertainty and ignorance, of people by using, again, a strong imagery that is geared to show that without a short-term realization of the digital transformation organizations (or even entire countries) will lose out. Likely consequences are obvious, organizations including policymakers approach the digital transformation by means of ad hoc solutions, e.g. the order of new software, thereby overlooking the crucial need of understanding the structural and cultural contexts that they are supposed to benefit. What if a too strong focus on digitalization in terms of collecting and storing data will actually lead to (even) more formalization and documentation in organizations (because it is possible to do it) and thus take away valuable time from focusing on creativity and innovation. If we instead talk about sustainable (or living) digitalization, what will we then imagine?
Against this background, from the research side, there is an urgent need to discuss the digital transformation and its possible differential implications on private and public organizations from a more balanced point of view. Thus it is claimed that researchers should approach the digital transformation and its consequences on organizations and their future with more scrutiny and reflection. As we know from research that (technological) innovation rarely yields the consequences expected.
Therefore, we encourage scholars and practitioners to share their reflective and critical ideas about the future of different types of organizations considering both the opportunities and challenges provided by the digital transformation. Submissions, adopting different theoretical lenses and worldviews, using different research methods, analyzing different types of organizations (e.g. small and medium-sized enterprises) and exploring the topic in different cultural settings are strongly encouraged. Conceptual papers and contributions from disciplines other than business and management are welcome as well.