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Be­hind the buzzword: Di­gital in­nov­a­tion

23.11.2021, Re­search :

The term is booming - but what actually constitutes digital innovations? Axel Hund and Prof. Dr. Heinz-Theo Wagner, researchers at the Institute for Service Management (CROSS) at HNU, address the definitional fuzziness of digital innovations in an article that has just been published in the Journal of Strategic Information Systems (JSIS). The CROSS researchers clarify the terminology, plead for transdisciplinary connectivity and suggest a new perspective on the research field.

Researchers agree that the phenomenon of digital innovation has led to a paradigm shift - but there is less consensus on the interdisciplinary understanding of the term. This is the initial observation of the article "Digital Innovation: Literature Review and Novel Perspective", which Axel Hund and Prof. Dr. Heinz-Theo Wagner at the Institute of Service Management recently published together with Professors Daniel Beimborn and Tim Weitzel (both University of Bamberg).

"The Digital"? Problem of lacking conceptual clarity

The authors analysed more than 200 contributions on digital innovation from a total of eight disciplines such as business informatics, marketing and management. They find that the ubiquity of digital technologies has undermined existing assumptions about innovation, strategy and organisation and has not yet been clearly conceptualised as a complex and multi-layered term. The result is fragmented knowledge about the currently highly topical research subject of digital innovation, which is relevant for several academic disciplines and can only be consolidated to a limited extent. For example, digital innovations are defined in a customer-centred way in marketing, while the focus in economics is on their organisational effects.

Plea for a new perspective on digital innovations

The authors bring the socio-technical dimension of digital innovation into the scientific discourse. They reframe previous conceptualisations and provide a new definition of digital innovation in distinction to traditional, 'pre-digital' innovation. In addition, they developed a framework with which research on digital innovation can be coordinated across disciplines on the basis of five key topics.

With their contribution, Hund et al. not only provide comprehensive conceptual work, but also stimulate a new perspective on the research field of digital innovation. As particularly promising areas of future research, they discuss the diverse fields of tension and paradoxes as well as the importance of recombining knowledge in the context of digital innovation.

To the publication

Hund, Axel; Wagner, Heinz-Theo; Beimborn, Daniel; Weitzel, Tim (2021): Digital innovation: Review and novel perspective. In: The Journal of Strategic Information Systems 30 (4), pp. 101695. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsis.2021.101695.
Online at:

The Journal of Strategic Information Systems (JSIS) is part of the "Senior Scholar Basket of Eight" and is one of the highest ranked journals in the field of information systems (VHB: A; ABDC: A* ranking).


Axel Hund
Prof. Dr. Heinz-Theo Wagner

Symbol image: Digital innovation (opens enlarged image)
Symbol image: Digital innovation