Special Issue "Critical Issues of Knowledge Management for Sustainable Organizations"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 May 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Mario J. Donate
Guest Editor
Business Administration, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Sociales, Toledo 45071, Spain
Interests: knowledge management; strategic alliances; innovation strategies; corporate social responsibility; strategic management
Dr. Fátima Guadamillas
Guest Editor
Business Administration; University of Castilla-La Mancha; Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Sociales; 45071, Toledo (Spain).
Interests: Knowledge Management; Strategic alliances; Innovation Strategies; Corporate Social Responsibility; Strategic Management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Knowledge management (KM) is a discipline that focuses in the manner that knowledge, which is widely recognized as a primary source of competitive advantage and a core competency, is created, acquired, shared, stored, and applied in and between organizations (Alavi and Leidner, 2001; Guadamillas and Donate, 2011). KM research has steadily grown over the last three decades, with contributions coming from different academic ambits, such as knowledge epistemology, organizational learning, information and technology approaches, or resource- and knowledge-based views of the firm. Meanwhile, sustainability is gaining increasing importance for organizations in every business sector, where concerns about social and environmental responsibility equal the importance of a firm’s economic viability in fulfilling its stakeholders’ demands (Konys, 2018). Sustainability also introduces social and ecological dimensions in the innovation processes of companies. The creation and use of new knowledge contribute to foster sustainable-oriented innovation in technologies, product, or services (Nidomolu et al., 2009). Sustainability-oriented innovation transforms business environments and becomes a key factor for the competitive advantage of companies.

Sustainability is a concept not widely exploited by KM scholars to date, although research efforts are being made to integrate both concepts in order to find new solutions to business and management challenges in economic, environmental and social areas (for a recent literature review about the relationship between these two concepts, see Martins et al., 2019). This Sustainability Special Issue focuses on KM new trends and their relationship with sustainability. When a firm tries to be sustainable, it needs management of its knowledge resources in a distinctive manner, considering aspects such as the ethical treatment of data and information; knowledge exploration based on sustainable decisions (e.g., eco-innovation); knowledge exploitation to improve business processes (e.g., eco-efficiency); or the development of core capabilities (intellectual capital) to achieve sustainable-oriented competitive advantages.

Therefore, firms need KM activities and strategies that help them to generate sustainable outputs, but also to apply sustainability principles to accomplish their vision and stakeholders’ goals (economic, social, environmental). Especially in the so-called “industry 4.0”, the management of data, information, and knowledge by means of advanced technologies and tools such as IoT, Big Data, e-commerce, social networks, etc., is becoming an essential aspect for firms to achieve financial, but also social and environmental goals.

We thus invite researchers to submit papers to this Special Issue, aimed at finding links between sustainability and KM areas. Research subjects include (although they are not exclusively limited to): 

  • KM strategies for sustainability;
  • KM, sustainability, and eco-innovation;
  • Corporate social responsibility and KM;
  • Stakeholders’ KM for sustainability;
  • Sustainability in KM aspects;
  • KM integration in sustainable strategies;
  • The dark side of sustainability and KM management;
  • KM in sustainable-sensitive industries;
  • KM for sustainable innovation;
  • KM, innovation, and sustainable intra-entrepreneurship;
  • Ethical aspects of KM;
  • Industry 4.0, KM, and sustainability aspects;
  • Technological aspects of KM and their impact on sustainability;
  • Organizational and contextual factors for KM and sustainability. 

References (optional)

Alavi, M. and Leidner, D.E. (2001): “Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Systems: Conceptual Foundations and Research Issues”, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 107-136.

Donate, M.J. and Guadamillas, F. (2011): “Organizational Factors to Support Knowledge Management and Innovation”, Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 15, 890-914.

Konys, A. (2018): “An Ontology-Based Knowledge Modelling for a Sustainability Assessment Domain”, Sustainability, Vol. 10, 300.

Martins, V.W.B; Rampasso, I.S.; Anholon, R. Quelhas, O.L.G. and Leal Filho, W. (2019): “Knowledge management in the context of sustainability: Literature review and opportunities for future research”, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 229, pp. 489-500,

Nidumolu, Ram; Prahalad, C.K. and Rangaswami, M.R. (2009): “Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation”, Harvard Business Review, September 2009, pp. 57-64.

Dr. Mario J. Donate
Dr. Fátima Guadamillas
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.


  • Knowledge management 
  • Sustainability 
  • Sustainable innovation

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Competition in Knowledge Ecosystems: A Theory Elaboration Approach Using a Case Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7372; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187372 - 08 Sep 2020
This paper explores how competition works in knowledge ecosystems, using a theory elaboration approach. With little research conducted in this area to date, three strategic streams of thought—resource-advantage theory, dynamic capabilities framework, and adaptive marketing capabilities perspective—are compared as a departing point and [...] Read more.
This paper explores how competition works in knowledge ecosystems, using a theory elaboration approach. With little research conducted in this area to date, three strategic streams of thought—resource-advantage theory, dynamic capabilities framework, and adaptive marketing capabilities perspective—are compared as a departing point and a frame of reference regarding the dynamics of competition. The streams of strategic thought all converge around the notion that organizations must constantly renew themselves to adapt and align to a fast-changing marketplace. The characteristics of knowledge ecosystems are conceptualized, whereafter an in-depth case study is presented to empirically assess competition in knowledge ecosystems, focusing on the perspective of a keystone actor. At the ecosystem-level, knowledge ecosystems primarily expose and explore knowledge, indicating that they mostly operate in a pre-competitive state. The time needed and the limited control inherent to knowledge exploration translate into the keystone actor focusing on transient rather than sustainable competitive advantage. Knowledge ecosystems further prove to be central in the coevolution and the growth of other ecosystems through connecting and sharing of the explored knowledge base with other ecosystem actors who, in turn, exploit this knowledge common for commercial purposes and innovation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Issues of Knowledge Management for Sustainable Organizations)
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