Digital Transformation: challenges and opportunities to manage innovation



Recently, digital transformation has strongly modified the competitive environment and entrepreneurial models and strategies (Crupi et al., 2022; Troise et al., 2022; Nambisan et al., 2019). The rise of digital transformation is blurring the traditional architectures of entrepreneurship and business models bringing new challenges for management scholars (Nambisan, 2017; Nambisan et al., 2019; Cusumano et al., 2019; Abbate et al., 2021; Del Sarto et al., 2022). Of course, the impact of digital technologies on companies is not only limited to running online meetings, paperless offices, or social media communication. On the contrary, it encompasses a holistic approach to re-thinking strategies, business models, and activities (Jacobides et al., 2018). This profound change in the business landscape and the pervasiveness of digital transformation in all the entrepreneurship-related aspects beg the question: Is digital transformation changing the nature of innovation management and entrepreneurship?

Data, information, and knowledge are the new ingredients of success that provide new market opportunities and pervade new business models. On the one hand, digital transformation has opened up entirely new innovation opportunities and challenges for companies (Jacobides, 2019). On the other hand, a contemporary entrepreneur with the right mindset should possess skills such as creativity, a feel for market opportunities, solid technical knowledge, and the courage to creatively disrupt the business (Soltanifar et al., 2021). Contemporary entrepreneurs, indeed, are required to "think digitally" to face the challenges and grasp the opportunities offered by new digital technologies to pursue long-term success and maintain a significant competitive advantage (Cutolo and Kenney, 2020). 

Indeed, digital transformation has also reshaped the consumer experience by introducing artificial intelligence-powered tools in companies' marketing strategies to offer customers more immersive experiences. Those tools produce enormous amounts of big data that derive 'companies' marketing strategy development (Checchinato, 2021). Especially customer-oriented companies need to re-think their traditional approach to understanding consumer behaviour by combining physical and digital dimensions in a unique multi-sensorial experience (Bolton et al., 2018). This change in mindset is more challenging for traditional entrepreneurs that have to integrate a digital strategy and digital tools into their business. 

Against this background, the call aims to provide an birds-eye view of the opportunities offered by digital technologies by looking at three different trajectories. The first is related to the change of entrepreneurial mindset required to integrate new digital strategies (from linear to exponential thinking). The second concerns the opportunities offered by digitalization in engaging with customers. And, finally, the third refers to the change of paradigm stimulated by digital technologies in promoting more sustainable business models in crucial sectors. Accordingly, we encourage the submission of contributions aiming to cover a wide range of topics such as (but not limited to):

  • Digital technology as a driver for entrepreneurship and competitiveness;
  • Digital technology as game-changer in innovation management and entrepreneurial mindset;
  • Digital technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, IoT, i4.0), new ventures and business model innovation;
  • Digital technology: from traditional to innovative managerial and entrepreneurial approaches; 
  • Value creation and appropriation in the data-driven economy;
  • Entrepreneurial and managerial approaches in digital platforms and ecosystems;
  • Digital technology and marketing strategies; 
  • Digitalization of consumer experience, the "phygital rebirth" of marketing strategies;
  • Business implications of the combination of digital transformation and circular economy;
  • Design and implementation of new circular digital business models and new entrepreneurial opportunities.



Submissions must be original and must not be under consideration for publication or presentation elsewhere. Papers that are deemed suitable for publication in the special issue will be double-blind reviewed as per the EJIM's review process guidelines. The guest editors will base their final acceptance decisions on the relevance for the special issue, technical quality, innovative content, and originality of research approaches and results

Papers should be submitted via the journal's online submission system available through the journal homepage or by following this link. When submitting, please choose the special issue: "Digital Transformation: challenges and opportunities to manage innovation" as the article type from the drop-down menu.

All papers must follow the guidelines outlined by the journal for submission

For any inquiries pertaining to this special issue, please contact the guest editor: [email protected]


Guest editors:

Antonio Crupi, University of Messina – [email protected]

Veronica Marozzo, University of Messina – [email protected]

Francesco Paolo Appio, SKEMA Business School[email protected]

Fabrizio Cesaroni, University of Messina – [email protected]

Key Dates: 

Submission portal opens: 21st of July 2022

Full paper submission: 1st of February 2023


Abbate, T., Cesaroni, F., Cinici, M. C., & Villari, M. (2019). Business models for developing smart cities. A fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis of an IoT platform. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 142, 183-193.

Bolton, R. N., McColl-Kennedy, J. R., Cheung, L., Gallan, A., Orsingher, C., Witell, L., & Zaki, M. (2018). Customer experience challenges: bringing together digital, physical and social realms. Journal of Service Management.

Checchinato, F. (2021). Digital transformation and consumer behaviour: How the analysis of consumer data reshapes the marketing approach. In Managing Digital Transformation (pp. 165-176). Routledge.

Crupi, A., Del Sarto, N., Di Minin, A., & Kenney, M. F. (2022). Disentangling the importance of digital platforms and absorptive capacity in digital business ecosystems. In Handbook on Digital Business Ecosystems. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Cusumano, M. A., Gawer, A., & Yoffie, D. B. (2019). The Business of Platforms: Strategy in the Age of Digital Competition, Innovation, and Power. New York: HarperBusiness.

Cutolo, D., & Kenney, M. (2020). Platform-dependent entrepreneurs: Power asymmetries, risks, and strategies in the platform economy. Academy of Management Perspectives.

Del Sarto N., Cesaroni F., Di Minin A., & Piccaluga A. (2022). One size does not fit all. Business models heterogeneity among Internet of Things architecture layers. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 34(7), 787-802.

Jacobides, M. G. (2019). In the ecosystem economy, ' 'what's your strategy?. Harvard Business Review, 97(5), 128-137.

Jacobides, M.G., Cennamo, C., Gawer, A. (2018). Towards a theory of ecosystems. Strategic Management Journal, 39(8), 2255–2276.

Nambisan, S. (2017). Digital Entrepreneurship: Toward a Digital Technology Perspective of Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 41(6), 1029–1055.

Nambisan, S., Wright, M., & Feldman, M. (2019). The digital transformation of innovation and entrepreneurship: Progress, challenges and key themes. Research Policy, 48(8), 103773.

Nambisan, S., Zahra, S. A., & Luo, Y. (2019). Global platforms and ecosystems: Implications for international business theories.

Soltanifar, M., Hughes, M., & Göcke, L. (2021). Digital Entrepreneurship: Impact on Business and Society (p. 327). Springer Nature.

Troise, C., Corvello, V., Ghobadian, A., & O'Regan, N. (2022). How can SMEs successfully navigate VUCA environment: The role of agility in the digital transformation era. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 174, 121227.

Guest Editor Biographies

Antonio Crupi is Assistant Professor at the University of Messina, Italy. He is also Research Affiliate with the Institute of Management of Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Italy; and with the Strategic and Technology Innovation Management (STIM) at the Institute of Manufacturing of the University of Cambridge, UK. His research concerns innovation, entrepreneurship, and intellectual property. His current research focuses on intellectual property rights systems, strategic use of intellectual property, entrepreneurial dynamics, and university‒industry interactions. His works have been published in high-quality peer-reviewed journals and presented at international conferences.

Veronica Marozzo is Assistant Professor at the University of Messina, Italy. She received a Ph.D. in Economics and Business Management from the University of Calabria. Her main research interest is in the field of consumer behaviour with a focus on product authenticity and product sustainability, consumers' willingness to pay, au-naturel color and packaging, product personalization, front-of-package label (FoPL), communication of the creative process, smart tourism destination & disability, as well as issues related to digital marketing, digital transformation, open innovation and co-creation, innovation in SMEs and entrepreneurship in innovative start-ups. Her studies have been published in journals and books and presented at national and international conferences.

Francesco Paolo Appio is an Associate Professor of Innovation at SKEMA Business School (Campus Grand Paris, France). His research is interdisciplinary in nature and mainly revolves around the impact of digital transformation on innovation at multiple levels (ecosystems, city, organization, teams).

Fabrizio Cesaroni is Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Messina (Italy) and research affiliate with the Institute of Management of Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Italy. His research interests are in the field of technology and innovation management and focus on several complementary aspects, such as technological entrepreneurship, technology licensing strategies, and management of intellectual property rights.