The emergence of the new technological revolution (known as the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0) has acted as a catalyst for the transformation of the business environment from an industrial to a knowledge economy over the last few decades. This transition to the knowledge economy is characterised by disruptions and unexpected turbulences which pose greater criticalities to organisations with diverse characteristics and backgrounds and in different industries. For a business to operate in the knowledge economy, value creation through products or services becomes the result of a combination of knowledge-intensive activities, innovative actions and technological advancement (Garousi Mokhtarzadeh et al., 2020; Powell & Snellman, 2004; Sukumar et al., 2020). This drives companies towards the implementation of digital-centred strategies, which often have a dramatic impact on their operations -i.e. processes, activities and approaches to exploiting national and international opportunities (Enkel et al., 2020; Hopp et al., 2018). For instance, among others, revolutionary technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing, autonomous robots, and social media have not only challenged traditional business models but also assisted organisations in their cross-border activities and internationalisation process (Jafari-Sadeghi et al., 2021; Son et al., 2019; Strange & Zucchella, 2017).
This is particularly important for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which were traditionally known for operating and focusing mostly within national boundaries, adopting lower digital-oriented business models and lack of awareness and commitment to sustainability (Denicolai et al., 2021). However, the shift from an industrial to a knowledge economy as well as the constant technological evolution and increasingly global business competition have forced them toward internationalisation opportunities through reconfiguration of their business models and operations (Durmaz & Ilhan, 2015; Jafari Sadeghi & Biancone, 2018). In particular, implementing digital business models and employing the latest technologies provides an opportunity for young and entrepreneurial internationalisers to access the integrated business networks and provide personalised offerings to global customers but also become suppliers in the new and global digitalised value chains (Chen, 2019; Rehm & Goel, 2017; Tseng & Lin, 2011). That is, although digital technologies increased the need for concurrent internal changes, they enable internationaliser SMEs by creating more variability in entrepreneurial activities with speed and performance (Hervé et al., 2020; Lumpkin & Dess, 2004; Nambisan, 2017).
On the other hand, the transition to the knowledge economy and digitalisation pose a series of new threats and challenges to firms -SMEs in particular, related to their cybersecurity and digital transformation (Annarelli et al., 2020). To guarantee both survival and business sustainability in their digital internationalisation, organisations need to build knowledge capacity to predict the upcoming change and get prepared for it. Firms that have been able to capitalise on their knowledge resources and invest in knowledge are being able to disrupt not only the markets but their own organisational structures to put the customers at the heart of what their business does. And for this, organisational systems aimed at enhancing the so-called 'organisational resilience' are required. Such systems -combined with a knowledge-driven vision, strategy and culture, will become critical tools to guide an organisation in navigating change, particularly at times when information technologies are transforming not only the firm but also its business context.
The notation of organisational resilience refers to their 'ability to face disruptions and unexpected events thanks to the strategic awareness and linked operational management of internal and external shocks" (Annarelli & Nonino, 2016). This has been inspired by the concept of resilience in two distinct fields of engineering and ecology. The former (engineering resilience) builds on the idea of elasticity and explains the capacities to efficiently and imminently react to external shocks, whereas ecological resilience stresses the ability to absorb disturbance and retain the structure and system (Conz et al., 2017; Walker et al., 2004; Watanabe et al., 2004). Consequently, in the era of the knowledge economy and digital transformation, organisations should be resilient to disruptions due to digitalisation. Hence, building on the definition by Wright et al (2016), the concept of digital resilience can be explained by the extent to which firms are able to access and leverage their information and knowledge and employ digital technologies to face technological disruptions and become resilient in the era of digital transformation.
The current wave of digital globalisation has not only changed who is participating and how they do business across borders but also intensified the level of competition (Manyika et al., 2016; Mosey 2016). Consequently, many SMEs are not able to internationalise digitally due to their traditional ways of doing business. Therefore, to become successful, such entrepreneurial internationalisers need to transform their processes and activities toward digital evolution and adopt new business models for digital resilience.
Hence, this special issue focuses on entrepreneurial internationalisation in the era of the knowledge economy and aims to disentangle the role of digital resilience and strategies in the internationalisation of SMEs. We welcome qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method approaches and, overall, research articles bridging the gap between theoretical conceptions and practical insights. Such studies might be focused on, but not limited to, the following areas of research and related topics:
- Resilience and successful digitalisation strategies for internationalisation of SMEs;
- Digital transformation and adoption of new production technologies in the internationalisation process of SMEs;
- The links between digital resilience, international performance and innovation of SMEs;
- Internal (e.g., individual and organisational characteristics) and external factors (e.g., institutional and digital-related changes) that impact SMEs to be resilient against disruption of revolutionary technologies;
- entrepreneurial characteristics and the role of managerial support in the digital resilience of small and young internationalisers;
- Operational and decision-making processes for digital resilience of international entrepreneurial firms;
- E-business and new entrepreneurship models;
- The extent to which SMEs restructure their businesses models internal and external resources;
- Technological breakthroughs and trends for disruptive innovation in born-globals;
- Digital internationalisation and its challenges and threats (e.g., cybersecurity, disclosure of technological knowledge and information asymmetry) for young SMEs;
- Digital transformation and inter-organisational knowledge management among international SMEs;
- SMEs' digital globalisation and sustainability.
Papers targeting the special issue should be submitted through the JEIM submission system (https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jeim) and will undergo a similar review process as regularly submitted papers.
Article Type to select when submitting: Digital Resilience
The submission system opens on 1st October 2022, running until 28th February 2023.
The expected time of publication of the special issue is October 2023. When submitting your paper, be sure to specify that the submission is for the special issue on "Digital Resilience, New Business Models and International Entrepreneurship in the Knowledge Economy" by ticking the appropriate box. The special issue is subject to the normal double-blind review process established by JEIM.
Questions pertaining to the special issue should be directed to the special issue managing guest editor, Dr Vahid Jafari-Sadeghi via email at email@example.com.
Aston Business School, Aston University, UK
Research Centre for Business in Society, Coventry University, UK
Associate Editor, Journal of Business Research and School of Business
University of Nicosia, Cyprus
Denise A. D. Bedford
Georgetown University, USA
Guest Editors' Bios
Vahid Jafari-Sadeghi is a Lecturer in International Business and is the Programme Director of MSc International Business at Aston Business School. Before joining Aston University, Vahid was a senior lecturer in International Entrepreneurship at the Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, and lecturer in Business Strategy at the School of Strategy and Leadership at Coventry University. He is an active researcher in the field of international entrepreneurship, particularly in the area of SME internationalisation. Vahid has published papers in leading international journals such as International Business Review, Journal of Business Research, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Journal of International Entrepreneurship, etc. Dr Jafari-Sadeghi is an associate editor at the EuroMed Journal of Business, and a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, International Journal of Business and Globalisation, and British Food Journal. He has served as the lead guest editor for the special issues at the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research, and British Food Journal. Vahid has edited various books in Springer and Routledge and performed as track chair and presenter for several international conferences.
Alexeis Garcia-Perez is Professor in Management Information Systems at Coventry University, UK, and a Visiting Research Scholar at Georgetown University, USA. His original background in Computer Science was complemented by a PhD in Information Systems and Knowledge Management, enabling an interdisciplinary perspective of Management Information Systems research and practice. Alexeis leads research on cybersecurity management, privacy and data-driven innovation at the Centre for Business in Society, Coventry University.
Demetris Vrontis is the Vice Rector for Faculty and Research and a Professor of Strategic Marketing Management at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus. He is the Founder and Editor in Chief of the EuroMed Journal of Business, an Associate Editor of the Journal of Business Research, an Associate Editor of the International Marketing Review and a Consulting Editor of the Journal of International Management. He has wide editorial experience and has successfully edited over 60 guest editions in top tier journals. He is the President of the EuroMed Academy of Business, which serves as an important and influential regional academy in the area of Business and Management and the Managing Director of Gnosis: Mediterranean Institute for Management Science. He has widely published in about 300 refereed journal articles, 45 books and 60 chapters in books, and has presented papers to over 80 conferences around the globe. He is a fellow member and certified Chartered Marketer of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Chartered Business Consultant. He is also currently serving as a consultant and is a member of the board of directors to several international companies.
Denise Bedford is currently an Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University's Communication Culture and Technology program, adjunct faculty at the Schulich School of Business, York University, a Visiting Scholar at the University of Coventry, and a Distinguished Practitioner and Virtual Fellow with the U.S. Department of State. She teaches a range of graduate level courses in knowledge management, enterprise architecture, and data sciences. Her current research interests include knowledge architectures and knowledge engineering, knowledge economies and knowledge cities, intellectual capital management, knowledge sharing behaviors, semantic analysis and text analytics, communities of practice, business architecture, document engineering and content architectures, multilingual architecture, and search system design/architectures. Dr. Bedford retired from the World Bank in 2010 where she was Senior Information Officer. From 2010 to 2015, Dr. Bedford was the Goodyear Professor of Knowledge Management at Kent State University. Dr. Bedford has also worked for Intel Corporation, NASA, University of California Systemwide Administration, and Stanford University. Her educational background includes a B.A. triple major in History, in Russian Language/Literature, and in German Language/Literature from the University of Michigan; an M.A.in Russian History also from University of Michigan; an M.S. in Librarianship from Western Michigan University, and a Ph.D. in Information Science from University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Bedford's non-academic interests include collecting 18th Century mid-Atlantic and Southern antiques, caring for her nine very large rescue dogs, heirloom gardening, and historical tourism.
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