Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Interdisciplinary research is sought on digital transformation


Zeki Simsek

Digital technologies are forcing organizations – from businesses to academia – to change how they operate and interact with their constituencies, and COVID-19 has hastened the escalation of that transformation. How organizations manage that transformation successfully is at the heart of a call for digitalization research by a Clemson University business professor and an international team of his colleagues.

Zeki Simsek, professor and Gressette Chair of Business Strategy and Planning in the Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business, is behind the initiative, which seeks digitalization transformation research submissions from various academic disciplines.

“Organizations are faced with reinventing the way they operate and communicate with their constituencies, and that challenge has been accelerated by the pandemic,” Simsek said. “Given that leadership is deeply rooted in the success of that transformation, we believe there is a timely need for a forum and conversation about the role strategic leadership will play in a digital transformation.”

The Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal has accepted Simsek and his colleagues’ proposal for a special issue on digitalization called, “Leading the Digital Transformation of Incumbent Firms: A Strategic Entrepreneurship Perspective.” Select research submissions for review and publication consideration can be submitted to the Journal’s website here from May 1 to July 1, 2021.

Overwhelming evidence has shown that successful digital transformations drive performance and competitive advantage. Research also indicates that digital leaders achieve earnings growth that is almost twice as high as digital under-achievers. However, digital transformations are difficult to execute, and only an estimated 30 percent of those shifts tend to succeed.

Simsek said there is a lack of academic knowledge about how organizational leaders might best envision, promote, and manage the process of successful digital transformation.

“All of us at Clemson have experienced an escalation of digitalization in going from face-to-face to teaching virtually,” Simsek said. “Given there is widespread recognition among companies that digital transformation is a strategic imperative on leadership agendas, there is a timely need for a forum that will further clarify the entrepreneurial role of strategic leaders – CEOs, top management teams, boards, and mid-level managers – in making that transformation successful.”

Simsek is joined in the research project, and its judging by Ciaran Heavy, University College Dublin; Victor Gilsing, Vrije University of Amsterdam; Wouter Stam, Vrije University of Amsterdam; and Andreas Koenig, University of Passau.

For more information on the research project, click here, or contact Zeki Simsek at ZSIMSEK@clemson.edu.

“We welcome contributions from scholars in a variety of disciplines who can provide novel, theoretically rich insights, and knowledge,” Simsek added. “It is our hope that this discourse will support senior leaders in successfully reimagining their firms’ digitalization strategies in the wake of COVID-19 and the many other grand challenges of our time.”

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