Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Towards More Permeable Scholarly Silos: One Small Step

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In a forthcoming Journal of Industrial Ecology forum article, Maurizio Catulli and Emma Fryer analyze the

subsector of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry concerned with reducing the economy’s environmental impact, dubbed ICT-enabled low carbon technologies (ICTeLCTs)

and defined more completely as:

the design, development and supply of hardware, software and associated services which have the purpose of supporting, enabling, or enhancing the carbon reduction of existing and new products, systems, and services.

The authors focus on supply side characteristics of the market, including vendor types, product categories, applications, sources of capabilities, driving factors, constraints, and recommendations. Based on collected data, identified applications include:

  • Green ICT
  • Building Management
  • Intelligent Transport
  • Transport Substitutes
  • Green Energy Production and Distribution
  • Energy Management
  • Advanced Metering and Smart Grid Technologies
  • Carbon Accounting
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Water Treatment/Management
  • Waste Treatment/Management
  • Other

The article is a useful compendium of where we are and where we might be going in the realm of Sustainability 2.0 from the vendor perspective. It also complements the emerging Green IT/IS literature in the IS field that focuses on many of these application areas, such as energy informatics, Green ICT, carbon accounting, intelligent transport, and smart grid (see below).

At the same time, the article illustrates the silos that exist in scholarship, that needn’t exist in a world of social media, and that can slow knowledge development. For example, Rick Watson and colleagues have conducted foundational research in the area of energy management and energy informatics, but this research is not referenced in Catulli and Fryer. And this works both ways, as I typically look to my own field first (MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, European Journal of IS, Management Science, Decision Support Systems, Information Systems Journal, Journal of MIS, and so forth) when conducting a literature review.

So, here’s a very small step towards making these scholarly silos more permeable – an abbreviated visual summary of research articles on IS and environmental sustainability (incomplete) spanning IS research, industrial ecology, economics, and other fields. Time constraints prevent making this more interactive, but at least the visual placement below illustrates that the same ideas are being discussed in many disparate conversations. What can (or should) we do about it?


Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

One thought on “Towards More Permeable Scholarly Silos: One Small Step

  1. With what you have posted above, I would like to invite you to participate in a conference that will be held in Czech Republic. Surely, it would learn a lot from the conference as it is related to your field and you will be great help too to forecast and share your ideas with people involve in the said conference.

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