The emergence of novel and powerful digital technologies, digital platforms and digital infrastructures has transformed innovation and entrepreneurship in significant ways. Beyond simply opening new opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs, digital technologies have broader implications for value creation and value capture. Research aimed at understanding the digital transformation of the economy needs to incorporate multiple and cross-levels of analysis, embrace ideas and concepts from multiple fields/disciplines, and explicitly acknowledge the role of digital technologies in transforming organizations and social relationships. To help realize this research agenda, we identify three key themes related to digitization—openness, affordances, and generativity—and, outline broad research issues relating to each. We suggest that such themes that are innate to digital technologies could serve as a common conceptual platform that allows for connections between issues at different levels as well as the integration of ideas from different disciplines/areas. We then summarize the contributions of the 11 papers presented in this Special Issue relating them to one or more of these themes and outlining their implications for future research.
In the last decade or so, the emergence of a diverse set of novel and powerful digital technologies, digital platforms and digital infrastructures has transformed both innovation and entrepreneurship in significant ways with broad organizational and policy implications (Nambisan, 2017; Nambisan et al., 2017; Yoo et al., 2010). Indeed, the phrase digital transformation has come into wide use in contemporary business media to signify the transformational or disruptive implications of digital technologies for businesses (new business models, new types of products/services, new types of customer experiences) (e.g., Boulton, 2018; Boutetiere and Reich, 2018), and more broadly, to indicate how existing companies may need to radically transform themselves to succeed in the emerging digital world (e.g., McAfee and Brynjolfsson, 2017; Rogers, 2016; Venkatraman, 2017). Recent research in innovation and entrepreneurship has tried to unpack these implications in more specific or concrete terms. For example, studies have shown how digital technologies fuel new forms of innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives that cross traditional industry/sectoral boundaries, embrace networks, ecosystems and communities, integrate digital and non-digital assets, and accelerate the inception, scaling and evolution of new ventures (e.g., Fischer, and Reuber, 2011; Huang et al., 2017; Lyytinen et al., 2016; Rayna et al., 2015; Srinivasan and Venkatraman, 2018; von Briel et al., 2018a, b; Younkin and Kashkooli, 2016). Similarly, studies have also documented the ways by which established large companies (such as GE, Volvo, Johnson Controls, Caterpillar, and Boeing) have tried to redefine themselves and radically restructure their innovation strategies and practices to respond to digitization (e.g., Fitzgerald et al., 2014; Svahn et al., 2017).