Alicia Minnerup, Universität Mannheim

The Interplay of the Digital and Sustainability Transformation – A Longitudinal Study.

Climate change and the overshooting of planetary boundaries are among the major challenges of the 21 st century. Therefore, the issues of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) have gained much attention in recent years and have become key topics, in both practice and academia. At the same time, the digital transformation constitutes a key opportunity for companies’ economic development, but also a major challenge. While, for example, the implementation of new digital technologies offers on the one hand outstanding opportunities to advance financial goals, companies are on the other hand confronted with challenges when it comes to the concrete implementation of the digital transformation. Accordingly, the question arises why the promised benefits of the digital transformation of companies all too often do not materialize.

While the above-mentioned debates and challenges hit all companies, family firms stand out due to the central role the family plays for the course of the firm. Most family firms are heavily owner-influenced and owner-led, giving family CEOs a usually more powerful position that allows them great leeway and discretion to shape the future of their firms. Integrating the family firm perspective can offer valuable research insights on how companies can leverage their CEOs’ and their Top Management Team’s (TMT) viewpoints on sustainability to make their impact on society more positive.

This dissertation focuses on the interplay of the digital and the sustainability transformation. More specifically, this dissertation aims to address the following research questions:

  • How can the digital and sustainability transformation profit from each other?
  • Which antecedent conditions need to be present in companies, and especially for their CEOs and TMT, to become more sustainable?

To answer these research questions, cross-industry data, including Big Data and an AI-based sustainability score, will be analyzed using econometric techniques.