Special Issue "ICMTs for Sustainability in the Post COVID-19 Era: Revisiting Conceptual and Policy Narratives"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ravi S. Sharma
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CeIDE & UC Business School, Christchurch 8041, New Zealand
Interests: digital & knowledge economics; IT for sustainable development; data-driven analytics
Dr. Stephen Bekoe
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Accra, Ghana
Interests: digital inclusion; mobile telephony; big data; digital literacy; internet studies
Dr. Aijaz A. Shaikh
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Business and Economics, Jyväskylä University, FI-40014 Jyväskylä, Finland
Interests: digital consumer behavior; mobile financial services (including financial inclusion); social media research; sharing/digital economy
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The calamitous COVID-19 pandemic in this age of digital lifestyles and the global ubiquity of the mobile, social Internet has brought Information, Communications & Media Technologies (ICMTs) to the forefront. Lockdowns and stay-at-home directives have led to a rapid and forced digital transformation across the spectrum of industries and geographies. ICMTs have helped more than half of humanity cope with this sudden change in their daily lives of work and leisure. Will ICMTs continue to make such an impact on inclusive and sustainable growth and development in the post COVID-19 era? Historically, while there have been numerous positivist accounts by scholars and practitioners, it is not always clear that they have led to a better world (cf. Qureshi, 2015; Walsham, 2017). ICMTs have been seen as a part of a wider concern for global development, but their role in fulfilling sustainable development has not been adequately understood to drive policy and action (Sharma, Iqbal & Victoriano, 2013; Tjoa & Tjoa, 2016; Asongu & Le Roux, 2017). It has become a matter of faith that ICMTs promote sustainable development. For example, in his plenary address to the 2019 World Economic Forum, Jack Ma the founder of Alibaba, remarked that there are 4 E’s of sustainable development: entrepreneurs, education, e-government, e-frastructure. This is salient as his enterprises could not have innovated and grown without the digital platforms and governance promoted in China and other “leap-frog” economies. But this has clearly not been the case across industries and countries.

The central focus of this Special Issue will be to explore the impact of ICMT in contributing to a post COVID-19, sustainable society as delineated by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainability aims to lessen the impact of the depletion of natural resources, maintain ecological balance, whilst promoting human and economic growth (Van de Kerk & Manuel, 2008). The key questions to be addressed in this Special Issue are: (i) how can ICMT support the SDGs; and (ii) what lessons can we learn from past positive as well as negative outcomes that apply to the post COVID-19 era? The Special Issue is particularly interested in the complex contingencies that arise from the use-cases of emerging ICMTs such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics, augmented reality, blockchain, quantum computing, etc. While it has been claimed that ICMT has had a strong influence on the development of economies (cf. Walsham & Sahay, 2006; Walsham, 2017), this has been countered by measured critiques challenging such assumption (cf. Qureshi, 2015). Historically, ICMT advancements have enabled innovation, efficiency, and effectiveness in industry and society and helped in propelling human and economic growth. ICMT investments were believed to be key enablers for achieving the SDGs (Ibujés-Villacís & Franco-Crespo, 2019). It has been conjectured that the world will never be the same again, post COVID-19. Could it be that the benefits of ICMTs have become more a matter of socio-economic survival than sustainability? How have digital inclusion and enterprise have addressed this gap as policy tools? What specific combinations of emerging digital technologies are key drivers of recovery and sustainability in the post COVID-19 era?

This Special Issue invites researchers and policy analysts to submit papers that address the overarching challenge of how ICMTs can or cannot support the SDGs in this new dawn of realism that the post COVID-19 era represents. Both conceptual and policy-oriented narratives are welcome. The specification of a rigorous research methodology, in-depth review of extant literature, and reference to the SDGs will be integral components of evidence-based narratives. Please refer to the submission guidelines of Sustainability. Papers are due by 31 October 2020 and shall be subject to the review process of the journal. The target publication date of the Special Issue is December 2020. For further clarification, please contact the lead Guest Editor, Ravi Sharma, at [email protected]

Dr. Ravi S. Sharma
Dr. Stephen Bekoe
Dr. Aijaz A. Shaikh
Guest Editors

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 papers will be 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 1900 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

  • emerging information technologies
  • use cases
  • benchmarking
  • sustainable development goals

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
Information, Communications and Media Technologies for Sustainability: Constructing Data-Driven Policy Narratives
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2903; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052903 - 08 Mar 2021
Viewed by 351
Abstract
This paper introduces the idea of data-driven narratives to examine how the use of information, communications, and media technologies (ICMTs) impacts the sustainable growth of economies. While ICMTs have regularly been advocated as a policy tool for growth and development, there is a [...] Read more.
This paper introduces the idea of data-driven narratives to examine how the use of information, communications, and media technologies (ICMTs) impacts the sustainable growth of economies. While ICMTs have regularly been advocated as a policy tool for growth and development, there is a research gap in empirical studies validating how such policies may be effective. This analysis is based on historical panel data from 39 economies across the developed North (19) and developing South (20). The industry-standard Cross-Industry Standard Process for Data Mining (CRISP-DM) methodology was applied to construct narratives that weave extant theories with empirical data. The art of developing data-driven narratives is rarely addressed in previous research articles. In the narrative approach, prior research on how ICMTs and sustainable growth are quantitatively scored and measured is reviewed. Panel data from authoritative sources such as the United Nations, World Economic Forum, and Sustainable Society Index were collected, cleansed, and conglomerated for data analytics. This was followed by evidence-based reasoning to examine any possible relationships between ICMT development and the sustainable growth of economies across the “North” and “South”. The findings reveal that there are differentiated outcomes in sustainable growth in high- and low-income economies. This poses legitimate questions as to whether low-income economies will be able to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 through the intermediation of ICMTs. It is the intended contribution of this paper to exemplify how data-driven narratives using CRISP may construct rich stories about ICMT for sustainability for the purposes of sharing good practice as well as lessons learned. Full article
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Article
Big Data as a Tool to Monitor and Deter Environmental Offenders in the Global South: A Multiple Case Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10436; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410436 - 14 Dec 2020
Viewed by 589
Abstract
While prior research has looked at big data’s role in strengthening the environmental justice movement, scholars rarely examine the contexts, mechanisms and processes associated with the use of big data in monitoring and deterring environmental offenders, especially in the Global South. As such, [...] Read more.
While prior research has looked at big data’s role in strengthening the environmental justice movement, scholars rarely examine the contexts, mechanisms and processes associated with the use of big data in monitoring and deterring environmental offenders, especially in the Global South. As such, this research aims to substitute for this academic gap through the use of multiple case studies of environmental offenders’ engagement in illegal deforestation, as well as legal deforestation followed by fire. Specifically, we have chosen four cases from three economies in the Global South: Indonesia, Peru and Brazil. We demonstrate how the data utilized by environmental activists in these four cases qualify as true forms of big data, as they have searched and aggregated data from various sources and employed them to achieve their goals. The article shows how big data from various sources, mainly from satellite imagery, can help discern the true extent of environmental destruction caused by various offenders and present convincing evidence. The article also discusses how a rich satellite imagery archive is suitable for analyzing chronological events in order to establish a cause-effect chain. In all of the cases studied, such evidentiary provisions have been used by environmental activists to oblige policy makers to take necessary actions to counter environmental offenses. Full article
Article
Will ICMT Access and Use Support URM Students’ Online Learning in the (Post) COVID-19 Era?
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8433; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208433 - 13 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 768
Abstract
In view of the United Nations’ (UN’s) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for education (SDG4), this study explored how information and communications and media technology (ICMT) access and uses for learning have influenced students’ perceived success during the COVID-19 pandemic era and the differential [...] Read more.
In view of the United Nations’ (UN’s) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for education (SDG4), this study explored how information and communications and media technology (ICMT) access and uses for learning have influenced students’ perceived success during the COVID-19 pandemic era and the differential effects of ICMT access and use on underrepresented minority (URM) and non-URM students. This study applied structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis using data from students who experienced online transition in one large public university in the United States. The results showed that ICMT uses for learning benefitted URM students but lack of ICMT access had a negative effect on online learning among URM students. We discussed the implications of these findings in the context of online education, digital inclusion, and the UN’s SDG4. Full article
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Article
The Strategic Change Matrix and Business Sustainability across COVID-19
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6026; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156026 - 27 Jul 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3041
Abstract
This study’s case narrative presents the Australian digital marketing firm (DUK). DUK successfully transitioned across the 2020 Australian business economic downturn created during the COVID-19 global pandemic. DUK’s competencies, capabilities and competitiveness form its 3Cs Market Intelligence Framework. When these 3Cs are expanded, [...] Read more.
This study’s case narrative presents the Australian digital marketing firm (DUK). DUK successfully transitioned across the 2020 Australian business economic downturn created during the COVID-19 global pandemic. DUK’s competencies, capabilities and competitiveness form its 3Cs Market Intelligence Framework. When these 3Cs are expanded, and then networked with Porter’s Five Forces model, along with the firm’s decisive pivot with knowledge inclusions, the DUK strategic change matrix can be used to portray a firm’s matrix-box of its current multi-dimensional business components. The strategic change matrix approach offers a firm a visual map that can be matrix-boxed and quickly interpreted. When faced with adversity, a firm can remap its matrix-box into an expanded form that includes its proposed enhanced competitiveness business solutions. These solutions can then be operationalised to form potentially sustainable business pathways into the future. This approach is particularly useful when a firm is confronted with a perceived economic, or game-changing business crisis, or when a firm makes the strategic decision to pivot, and to seek a new sustainable business-enhancing pathway, or when a firm just wants to visualise its ongoing business pathways into the future. Full article
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