Special Issue "Digital Technologies for Collaborative Knowledge Networks"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Education and Approaches".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ivana Quinto
Guest Editor
Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy
Interests: entrepreneurship; innovation management; complexity
Prof. Gianluca Elia
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering for Innovation, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy
Interests: digital entrepreneurship; collective intelligence; big data; open innovation
Prof. Elisabetta Raguseo
Guest Editor
Department of Management and Production Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy
Interests: digital transformation; big data; innovation and strategy
Prof. Pierluigi Rippa
Guest Editor
Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy
Interests: entrepreneurship; digital academic entrepreneurship; innovation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The growing international competition, increasing market volatility, demand for customized products, and shortened product life cycles represent serious challenges that organizations have to cope with. In such a context, knowledge is increasingly considered as a strategic resource for a sustainable organizational growth and competitiveness (e.g., Lopes et al., 2017). As consequence, knowledge management (KM) can be considered as a critical leverage for organizations to improve innovation processes and competitiveness (Lopes et al., 2017; Passaro et al., 2018). At the same time, the fast evolution of digital technologies (e.g., social media, business analytics, the Internet of Things, big data, advanced manufacturing, 3D printing, cloud and cyber-solutions, MOOCs) is offering new and interesting opportunities to entrepreneurs and managers in managing and reshaping organizations, markets, and business models and operations (Elia et al., 2019; Raguseo, 2018). Such technologies permeate every private and public organization (Fischer and Reuber, 2011; Fitzgerald et al., 2014; Greenstein et al., 2013) and have the potential to open up fascinating innovation and collaboration opportunities for both incumbent and new ventures (Cohen et al., 2017; Rippa and Secundo, 2019; Yoo et al., 2010). More in detail, digital technologies are defining new ways of collaborating, collecting, and organizing resources, thus supporting the collective design of products and services, the execution of routine activities and tasks, the complex matching between demand and offer, and the development of innovative solutions (Markus and Loebecke, 2013), in the final aim to make innovation possible (Nambisan et al., 2017) and to provide an end-to-end support to the entrepreneurial process.

Based on these premises, the array of technologies, applications, and tools could act as a catalyst of knowledge management flows and innovation processes in collaborative networks. In particular, in a such digitally-enabled world, the creation of virtuous and self-reinforcing relationships among different actors should accelerate synergetic knowledge management processes, which continuously transform and develop internal and external knowledge, as well as support innovation processes and organizational growth (de Reuver et al., 2018; Noennig et al., 2014). In other words, digitalization could enable organizations in adopting business models that are increasingly open, allowing ideas and technologies to flow from outside the company and from within the external environment (Urbinati et al., 2018). By participating in open innovation system, different actors could simultaneously benefit from and contribute to synergetic knowledge management processes, which continuously transform and develop knowledge resources (Noennig et al., 2014). Moreover, the exchange of knowledge and the speed of transactions increase significantly, thus creating new spaces of opportunities that companies can take to connect with external and complementary partners for innovation purposes (de Reuver et al., 2018). In other words, digital technologies could act as a catalyst of KM flows and innovation processes in collaborative networks.

Notwithstanding, many open issues exist in literature about the critical role of digital technologies in new collaborative knowledge networks that involve firms, university, startup, academic spin-off, and so on.

With this in mind, we look for theoretical and empirical research able to investigate a variety of lines of inquiry, such as:

  • Analysis of the relationship among the development of effective and efficient digital technologies, KM processes, and Open Innovation approaches;
  • Identification of the enablers and/or inhibitors, and influencing factors (relational oriented contexts, hyper-competition, etc.) linked to the exploitation of digital technologies in KM and innovation processes;
  • Analysis of the role of digital tools able to nurture KM and OI activities and processes;
  • Evaluation of the contribution of digital technologies to KM and OI processes;
  • Analysis of the impact of digital technologies on organizational and innovation performances;
  • Investigation of the role of digital tools have to support entrepreneurial processes and outcomes;
  • Identification of moderating/mediating factors of the relationship between digital technologies and KM and OI practices, processes, and outcomes.


  • de Reuver, M., Sørensen, C., & Basole, R. C. (2018). The digital platform: a research agenda. Journal of Information Technology, 33(2), 124References-135.
  • Elia, G., Margherita, A., & Passiante, G. (2020). Digital entrepreneurship ecosystem: How digital technologies and collective intelligence are reshaping the entrepreneurial process. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 150, 119791.
  • Nambisan, S., Lyytinen, K., Majchrzak, A., & Song, M. (2017). Digital Innovation Management: Reinventing innovation management research in a digital world. Mis Quarterly, 41(1).
  • Noennig, J. R., Scheler, A. M., Piskorek, K., & Barski, J. (2014, January). Towards Knowledge Ecosystems: Modelling Knowledge Dynamics in Environmental Systems. In KES (pp. 1360-1369).
  • Passaro, R., Quinto, I., & Thomas, A. (2017). Start-up competitions as learning environment to foster the entrepreneurial process. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 23(3), 426-445.
  • Raguseo, E. (2018). Big data technologies: An empirical investigation on their adoption, benefits and risks for companies. International Journal of Information Management, 38(1), 187-195.
  • Rippa, P., & Secundo, G. (2019). Digital academic entrepreneurship: The potential of digital technologies on academic entrepreneurship. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 146, 900-911.
  • Spender, J. C., Corvello, V., Grimaldi, M., & Rippa, P. (2017). Startups and open innovation: a review of the literature. European Journal of Innovation Management, 20(1),4-30
  • Urbinati, A., Chiaroni, D., Chiesa, V., & Frattini, F. (2018). The role of digital technologies in open innovation processes: an exploratory multiple case study analysis. R&D Management.

Dr. Ivana Quinto
Prof. Gianluca Elia
Prof. Elisabetta Raguseo
Prof. Pierluigi Rippa
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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  • digital entrepreneurship
  • knowledge management
  • digital technologies
  • open innovation
  • virtual communities

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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