Transformative Potentials Analysis

Scope of the Work Package

The overarching research goal of work package 1 is to identify and evaluate potentials for a future digitalized sustainability management along the entire product life cycle in order to develop an overall concept for sustainability management in a digitalized production. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to record and evaluate the knowledge, perspectives and requirements of stakeholders from industry, politics, environmental organizations and other socially relevant actors (such as trade unions). The work package considers the central question for transformative potentials of a digitalized sustainability management from different perspectives:

From a social science perspective

  • Which stakeholders need to be involved in a future digital sustainability management in order to contribute to an effective and widely accepted solution?

From an ecological perspective

  • What are the expectations regarding the ecological sustainability potential with regard to the future technical implementation of digitalized industrial processes in an international context?
  • What is the actual evidence regarding the ecological sustainability potential of innovative Industry 4.0 solutions in the scientific literature?
  • What experiences have companies had in the actual implementation of Industry 4.0 solutions with regard to the ecological impact of their digitalized industrial processes?

From an information technology perspective

  • What obstacles currently exist in order to be able to efficiently integrate the data on the ecological effects of products and processes into operational software systems?

The central result of the work package will be an integrated analysis that shows which transformative potentials for a digitalized sustainability management arise through Industry 4.0, on the basis of which recommendations for politics as well as practice-related guidelines for the other stakeholders involved are derived.

Recent Activities

  • Stakeholder workshop to discuss transformative potentials of a future digitalized sustainability management
  • Investigation of the current challenges for the integration of digital technologies in business processes of sustainability management in manufacturing companies
  • Investigation of the potential of Big Data in corporate environmental management in the automotive sectorI
  • Investigation of the current use and future potential of big data and artificial intelligence in the automotive sector
  • Analysis of the scientifically proven resource efficiency potential through Industry 4.0 solutions

Selected Publications

  • Beier, G.; Matthess, M.; Shuttleworth, L.; Guan, T.; de Oliveira Pereira Grudzien, D. I.; Xue, B.; Pinheiro de Lima, E.; Chen, L. (2022). Implications of industry 4.0 on industrial employment: A comparative survey from Brazilian, Chinese, and German practitioners. Technology in Society (p. 102028). Elsevier BV. doi: 10.1016/j.techsoc.2022.102028 . Link
  • Beier, G.; Matthess, M.; Guan, T.; de Oliveira Pereira Grudzien, D. I.; Xue, B.; Pinheiro de Lima, E.; Chen, L. (2022): Impact of Industry 4.0 on corporate environmental sustainability: comparing practitioners’ perceptions from China, Brazil and Germany. Sustainable Production and Consumption, (Vol. 31, pp. 287–300). doi: 10.1016/j.spc.2022.02.017 . Link
  • Kunkel, S.; Matthess, M.; Xue, B.; Beier, G. (2022): More sustainable supply chains through Industry 4.0? Perspectives from buying firms and Chinese suppliers. Resources, Conservation & Recycling. 182, p. 106274. doi: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2022.106274 . Link
  • Matthess, M.; Kunkel, S.; Xue, B.; Beier, G. (2022): Supplier sustainability assessment in the age of Industry 4.0 – Insights from the electronics industry. Cleaner Logistics and Supply Chain. 4, p. 100038. doi: 10.1016/j.clscn.2022.100038 . Link
  • Shuttleworth, L.; Schmitz, S.; Beier, G. (2022): Impacts of Industry 4.0 on industrial employment in Germany: A comparison of industrial workers’ expectations and experiences from two surveys in 2014 and 2020. Production & Manufacturing Research, 10:1, 583-605. doi: 10.1080/21693277.2022.2104400. Link
  • Schmelzle, F.; Kunkel, S.; Matthess, M.; Beier, G. (2022): Digitalisierte Industrie und Nachhaltigkeit - Zwischen Synergie und Dissonanz. Industrie 4.0 Management, 38, 7-11, ISSN: 2364-9208, doi: 10.30844/I40M_22-1_7-11 . Link
  • Beier, G.; Kiefer, J.; Knopf, J. (2020): Potentials of Big Data for Corporate Environmental Management – a case study from the German automotive industry. In: Journal of Industrial Ecology, Special Issue “Data Innovation in Industrial Ecology”, 1–14. doi: 10.1111/jiec.13062 . Link
  • Beier, G., Fritzsche, K., Kunkel, S., Matthess, M., Niehoff, S., Reißig, M., van Zyl-Bulitta, V. (2020): A green digitalized economy? Challenges and opportunities for sustainability. IASS Fact Sheet, 2020, 1. - IASS Fact Sheet, 2020, 1. DOI: 10.2312/iass.2020.028
  • Beier, G.; Niehoff, S.; Renn, O. (2018): Industrie 4.0 auf dem Prüfstand - Effizienzwunder oder Ressourcenschleuder? In: politische ökologie, Special Issue Smartopia, 155, p. 64-69. Link
  • Beier, G. (2020): Risks and Opportunities of Industry 4.0 for Corporate Sustainability. In: Proceedings of WI2020 Community Tracks; Gronau, N., Heine, M., Poustcchi, K., Krasnova, H., (Eds).; GITO Verlag; pp 256–268, ISBN 9783955453367 .