Driving business transformation toward sustainability: exploring the impact of supporting IS on the performance contribution of eco-innovations

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Abstract

Information systems (IS) can foster business transformation toward sustainability on a large scale by supporting green technologies, thereby creating hybrid physical–digital solutions that are able to fulfil organizational performance requirements and contribute to sustainable business practices. These supporting IS provide an alternative path to corporate sustainability rather than just contributing to the ‘greening’ of business practices by aiming to improve the organizational performance impact of environmental advantageous innovations, which in turn fosters their adoption. Employing a multiple case study comprising eight companies that have implemented such eco-innovations (specifically electric vehicles) in their business processes, our findings indicate that the organizational performance contribution of eco-innovations is improved when complemented by supporting IS. This effect is achieved by (1) enhancing the efficiency of the business processes in which the eco-innovations are deployed, thus increasing eco-efficiency, and (2) enabling new functionalities, processes and business models that help achieve organizational sustainability goals, thereby driving eco-effectiveness. With these two aspects, we add two functional affordances – technological flexibility and digital eco-innovation – to the existing knowledge base of Green IS and point to an elaborated role of IS in sustainability transformation.

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