Special Issue "Sustainability in Business: Change, Growth and Future Impact"

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: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Varun Gupta
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Business, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, Delémont, Switzerland
Interests: software engineering; innovation management; business model innovation; sustainability
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Rainer Telesko
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Business Informatics, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, Delémont, Switzerland
Interests: systems engineering; requirement engineering; knowledge management
Dr. Maria Belén Usero Sánchez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Jurídicas, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Calle Madrid, 126, E-28903 Getafe, Madrid, Spain
Interests: competitive dynamics; non-market strategy; average social strategy; entrepreneurship; technology-based companies; cultural sectors; family businesses
Dr. Virginia Hernández Paz
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Entrepreneurship and Family Business, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Getafe, Spain
Interests: international operations; institutional factors in international strategy; growth in SMEs; innovation strategy
Dr. Nadia Di Paola
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Economia, Management, Istituzioni Department, University of Naples "Federico II", Napoli NA, Italy
Interests: entrepreneurship; innovation and supply chain management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue disseminates the extended version of the accepted and presented papers in the “International Conference on Sustainability in Software Engineering & Business Information Management: Innovation & Applications (SSEBIM)”, Olten, Switzerland. The SI also invites other researchers who could not take part in the conference to submit their research papers falling within the SI scope. This SI invites research articles, empirical studies, short articles addressing the alignment of business strategies with sustainability and the resulting impacts. This Special Issue is oriented toward (but not limited to) the following topics:  

  • Sustainability in business model innovation;
  • Innovative and sustainable business practices;
  • Sustainability in business management;
  • Disaster and crisis management for supporting sustainable business models;
  • Sustainable supply chain management;
  • Human values, ethics, and responsibility;
  • Social businesses, sustainable innovation practices;
  • Value proposition innovation;
  • Value architecture innovation;
  • Tools, approaches and impact assessment in sustainable business models;
  • Business experimentation for sustainability across organizational contexts;
  • Best practices and case studies of business experimentation for sustainability;
  • Policy implications for business experimentation for sustainability;
  • Sustainable operational solutions;
  • Sustainable consumer service;
  • Sustainability in business economics;
  • Green marketing;
  • Spirituality.

Dr. Varun Gupta
Prof. Dr. Rainer Telesko
Dr. Maria Belén Usero Sánchez
Dr. Virginia Hernández Paz
Dr. Nadia Di Paola
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

  • sustainability
  • spirituality
  • green marketing
  • social businesses

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Article
Shared Taxonomy for the Implementation of Responsible Innovation Approach in Industrial Ecosystems
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9901; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179901 - 03 Sep 2021
Viewed by 472
Abstract
Symbolic narratives, such as an “ivory tower”, a “grey zone”, or a “black box” tell us about the gap between university and society, and academia and industry. Recently, they have been replaced by the Quadruple Helix model, which closes the gap by connecting [...] Read more.
Symbolic narratives, such as an “ivory tower”, a “grey zone”, or a “black box” tell us about the gap between university and society, and academia and industry. Recently, they have been replaced by the Quadruple Helix model, which closes the gap by connecting four main stakeholders—government, university, industry, and society, into an innovation ecosystem. However, the roles of the different stakeholders are often blurred and difficult to define, and it is difficult to develop a basic approach to implement responsible innovations in industrial ecosystems in general. On the other hand, the interactions between stakeholder groups, especially universities and industry, are not sufficiently demonstrated in both scientific literature and empirical studies. We note that the responsible research and innovation (RRI) approach should facilitate a framework of shared taxonomy among stakeholders. By highlighting this situation, we follow the paradigm of emerging thinking and we seek to fill this knowledge gap theoretically and empirically. Therefore, in this study, we combined several strategies and perspectives. First, we conducted survey research concerning social capital in Poland and Lithuania to understand the impact of social capital and trust on stakeholder cooperation. Second, we conducted interviews with scientists who actively work to transfer knowledge into industry. Third, we utilized field notes from working experiences in research management. This work has theoretical and practical implications. The theoretical contribution of the paper demonstrates the construction of methodology based on emerging perspectives, and new theoretical insights, on professional discourses for implementing the responsible innovation approach in industrial ecosystems, by highlighting the commitments of main stakeholder groups. Practical input: our insights and empirical research will contribute toward sustainability policymaking and achieving substantial results in industrial ecosystems. The results indicate that if there is trust, then the government, companies, and society (in Poland and Lithuania) would be willing to cooperate with each other. However, there is a lack of trust and cooperation between universities and businesses. Stakeholders have become increasingly aware of the emergence of a science and industry cooperation as an open platform, enlarged with society and policies. They note the problem of making research public and transparent as part of a new mode of cooperation; however, they articulate RRI as a framework of shared taxonomy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Business: Change, Growth and Future Impact)
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Article
Signaling the Adoption of the Benefit Corporation Model: A Step towards Transparency
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6967; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126967 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 616
Abstract
Using the signaling theory as a reference, this research conducts an in-depth analysis of the adoption of the benefit corporation model, a legal and governance framework introduced into Italian regulations in 2016 following legislation introduced by many US states between 2010 and 2013. [...] Read more.
Using the signaling theory as a reference, this research conducts an in-depth analysis of the adoption of the benefit corporation model, a legal and governance framework introduced into Italian regulations in 2016 following legislation introduced by many US states between 2010 and 2013. Focusing on the experience of Italian benefit corporations, we explore how these businesses manage their signaling environment (signaler, signal, receiver, and feedback) to obtain greater transparency. The analysis focuses on companies’ bylaws, websites, and non-financial reports and suggests that the adoption of this new hybrid business model will only translate into an opportunity for greater transparency for one in four benefit corporations. The ability to strengthen the effects of adopting this model, adequate resources, and a long-term approach are required. The model, therefore, appears to present an opportunity for larger companies that have already invested adequately in the development of communication (web) and reporting (report) tools. The results seem to suggest that, on the contrary, for small companies with less experience, transformation into a benefit corporation may generate a risk of ambiguity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Business: Change, Growth and Future Impact)
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Article
Competency-Industry Relatedness (C-IR) Framework for Sustained Business Growth in Startups during and Beyond Pandemic: Myths and Lessons from Publicly Funded Innovative Startups
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4632; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094632 - 21 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 744
Abstract
Context: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic led to a turbulent business environment, resulting in market uncertainties, frustrations, and rumors. Wrongly held beliefs—or myths—can hinder startups from turning new market opportunities into their favor (for example, by failing at diversification decisions) or undertaking [...] Read more.
Context: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic led to a turbulent business environment, resulting in market uncertainties, frustrations, and rumors. Wrongly held beliefs—or myths—can hinder startups from turning new market opportunities into their favor (for example, by failing at diversification decisions) or undertaking wrong business decisions, e.g., diversifying in industries that have products of no real market value). Objectives: The objective of the paper is to identify the beliefs that drive the business decisions of startups in a pandemic and to isolate those beliefs that are merely myths. Further, this paper proposes strategic guidelines in the form of a framework to help startups make sound decisions that can lead to market success. Method: The two-step research method involved multiple case studies with five startups based in India, France, Italy, and Switzerland, to identify perceptual beliefs that drove strategic business decisions, followed by a case study of 36 COVID-19-solution focused startups, funded by the European Union (EU). The findings were validated through a survey that involved 102 entrepreneurs. The comparative analysis of two multiple case studies helped identify beliefs that were merely “myths”; myths that drove irrational strategic decisions, resulting in business failures. Results: The results indicate that startups make decisions in pandemic situations that are driven by seven myths, pertaining to human, intellectual, and financial resources. The decision on whether to diversify or continue in the same business operation can be divided into four strategic options of the Competency-Industry Relatedness (C-IR) framework: ignore, delay, phase-in, and diversify. Diversification in the same (or different industry) is less risky for startups if they have the skills, as needed, to diversify in related industries. Diversification in related industries helps startups leverage their experiences and learning curves (those associated with existing product lines) to adapt their existing products in new markets, or utilize their technologies to solve new problems via new products. The desired outcome for these startups should be sustainable business growth—to meet sustainability goals by contributing to the society and the economy. Conclusion: The C-IR framework is a strategic guide for startups to make business decisions based on internal factors, rather than myths. Accurately assessing skill diversity and the nature of new industries (or markets) will help startups leverage their existing resources optimally, without the need for (pricey) external funding. This will foster sustained business growth resulting in a nation economic development. Knowledge transfer from the Innovation ecosystem will further strengthen the C-IR framework effectiveness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Business: Change, Growth and Future Impact)
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Case Report
Freelancing Models for Fostering Innovation and Problem Solving in Software Startups: An Empirical Comparative Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 10106; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310106 - 03 Dec 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 943
Abstract
Context: freelancers and startups could provide each other with promising opportunities that lead to mutual growth, by improving software development metrics, such as cost, time, and quality. Niche skills processed by freelancers could help startups reduce uncertainties associated with developments and markets, with [...] Read more.
Context: freelancers and startups could provide each other with promising opportunities that lead to mutual growth, by improving software development metrics, such as cost, time, and quality. Niche skills processed by freelancers could help startups reduce uncertainties associated with developments and markets, with the ability to quickly address market issues (and with higher quality). This requires the associations between freelancers and startup to be long-term, based on trust, and promising agreements driven by motivations (leading to the growth of both parties). Freelancers could help startups foster innovations and undertake software development tasks in better ways than conducted in-house, if they are selected using informed decision-making. Objectives: the paper has three objectives, (1) to explore the strategies of startups to outsource software development tasks to freelancers (termed as freelancing association strategies); (2) to identify challenges in such outsourcings; and (3) to identify the impacts of outsourcing tasks to freelancers on overall project metrics. The overall objective is to understand the strategies for involving freelancers in the software development process, throughout the startup lifecycle, and the associated challenges and the impacts that help to foster innovation (to maintain competitive advantages). Method: this paper performs empirical studies through case studies of three software startups located in Italy, France, and India, followed by a survey of 54 freelancers. The results are analyzed and compared in the identification of association models, issues, challenges, and reported results arising because of such associations. The case study results are validated using members checking with the research participants, which shows a higher level of result agreements. Results: the results indicate that the freelancer association strategy is task based, panel based, or a hybrid. The associations are constrained by issues such as deciding pricing, setting deadlines, difficulty in getting good freelancers, quality issues with software artefacts, and efforts to access freelancer work submissions for reward. The associations have a positive impact on software development if there is availability of good freelancers (which lasts long for various tasks). The paper finally provides a freelancing model framework and recommends activities that could result in making the situation beneficial to both parties, and streamline such associations. Fostering innovation in startups is, thus, a trade-off situation, which is limited and supported by many conflicting parameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Business: Change, Growth and Future Impact)
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