Innovations and Digitalization in a Disruptive Global Environment: Business Model Transformation



Exogenous shocks are a permanent feature of the global economy, constantly threatening firms, and exposing them to different types of risks. Even though they pose a significant challenge for businesses, they have received little attention in business research. The frequency of these shocks or “black swans,” (Taleb, 2007) is on the rise. From one side, environmental challenges and climate change are challenging businesses in a variety of sectors (Deloitte, 2021). From the other side, the COVID 19 epidemic has recently exacerbated environmental challenges, disrupting business activities and global value chains (GVCs), resulting in a significant drop in global GDP (Azevedo, 2020), companies’ profits (Saurav et al., 2020), and global FDI flows (UNCTAD, 2020), necessitating researchers' attention.

The recent health crises, along with the environmental challenges and technological advances are reshaping the setting in which businesses operate and the GVCs they are part of. Thus, the transition towards sustainable and more resilient business models is becoming a strategic requirement for firms (Van Tudler et al., 2021). These challenges have reignited the debate on how businesses can leverage digitalization and innovation to dynamically absorb and respond to external disturbances and build resiliency (Conz & Magnani, 2020). This raises the question of shifting business models and paying specific attention to innovation, digitalization, and internationalization.

The technological revolution (also known as Industry 4.0) such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous robots did not only challenge traditional business models but could reconfigure firms’ business models (Culot et al., 2020). The transition toward more resilient business models requires firms to rethink their business models (Zott & Amit, 2010).

Moreover, there is a need to foster the resilience firms within Global Value Chains (GVCs) (Gereffi, 2020). Moreover, innovation can be also considered a cornerstone for tackling the disruptive environment. While commercial innovation has a profit motive, social innovations address social and environmental needs (Lee, Spanjol & Sun, 2019; Steinfield, & Holt, 2019). While several studies devote attention to the importance of commercial innovation on performance in general, there is a lack of theory development and empirical evidence on innovation in a disruptive environment and on social innovation.

Despite the increasing number of studies discussing resilience (Hillmann & Guenther, 2021; Linnenluecke, 2017; Rahi, 2019), we still know little about how effectively firms and industries have been able to withstand the disruptions. Recent calls for research highlight the need to address firms’ responses to climate changes (Ghauri et al., 2021). Thus, exploring how firms re-configure their business models to cope with and mitigate the environmental, technological, and health challenges is a topic that deserves conceptual and empirical investigation. Empirical studies assessing the effectiveness of the strategies that various firms (i.e., Multinational vs. Small and Medium Enterprises; privately vs. publicly owned) put in place are strongly needed.


List of topic areas

This special issue encourages scholars to explore the following research questions at the intersections of business model transformation, innovation, and digitalization amid disruptive environments. We would like to receive both conceptual and empirical papers that could advance the theoretical and empirical understanding of business model transformation in face of severe environmental challenges and other disruptions. This special issue welcomes cross-disciplinary contributions, theoretical and empirical papers using qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods, and research articles bridging the gap between theoretical conceptions and practical insights. Thus, we seek theoretical, conceptual, and empirical papers that may address, but are not limited to, the following list of topics:

  • Relationship between resilience and agility: How is the relationship and the difference between these two concepts? How do they relate to business model transformation?
  • Resilience and business model transformation: What is the definition of resiliency? Is it ability, capacity, or process? Is it context-dependent? Is it dependent on the industry, institutional context, culture, and economy in which the firm is embedded? What is the role of internal and external factors in achieving resiliency?
  • Technological revolution and firms' business models: How does technology change business models? How does technology enable firms to transmit toward more resilient business models? What is the impact on the focus, locus, and modus of the firm? What is the impact of technology on innovation?
  • Value chain and business model: How do disruptions in the value chain influence business model innovations? How does digitalization affect multinational value chains? How do firms make the entire value chain more innovative? How does the firm become resilient at the level of the value chain?
  • International business theories amid disruptive environment: Which theories and how (e.g. internalization theory, learning theories, institutional theory) can be applied to manage exogenous shocks?
  • Firms' responses to exogenous shocks: How firms are reconfiguring their business models to cope with environmental, technological, and health challenges? Are there any cross-countries, cross-sectoral, or cross-firm variations in the impact of major exogenous shocks on firms? What is the role of non-firm factors (industry, ownership, size, and digitalization) in the firms' response effectiveness to shocks? What is the role of formal and informal institutions? How cultural and institutional differences shape the behavior of firms during and after exogenous shocks.
  • Corporate governance, ownership, and firms' responses during and after exogenous shocks: How does ownership shape firms' strategies during exogenous shocks? How does corporate governance influence business conduct? What is the role of corporate governance in the firms' response effectiveness to shocks?
  • Business legitimacy and exogenous shocks: Do firms reduce or increase their corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and philanthropic expenditure (non-market strategy) during and after exogenous shocks? Do the firms' non-market strategies change across geographic, institutional, and cultural spaces?
  • Social Innovation and disruptive environment: What are the antecedents of social innovation? MNCs to engage in social innovation? What mechanisms affect the process of such innovation? What are the outcomes of innovation?


Guest Editors

Bahaaeddin Alareeni,
Middle East Technical University, Northern Cyprus Campus, KKTC, Turkey
[email protected]

Rim El Khoury,
Notre Dame University, Louiaze, Lebanon
[email protected]

Cagri Yalkin,
Middle East Technical University, Northern Cyprus Campus, KKTC, Turkey,
[email protected]


Submissions Information

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Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.


Key deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 1 September 2022

Closing date for manuscripts submission: 28 February 2023