The nexus between digitalization and sustainability: A scientometrics analysis

Leila Irajifar, Hengcai Chen, Azadeh Lak, Ayyoob Sharifi, Ali Cheshmehzangi

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Digitalization and sustainability are among the most critical mega-trends in 21st century. The nexus between digitalization and sustainability unfolds exciting opportunities in addressing global challenges, creating a just and sustainable society and laying the groundwork for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Several studies have reviewed the link between these two paradigms and how they mutually impact one another. However, most of these reviews are qualitative and manual literature reviews that are prone to subjectivity and so lacking the required rigor. Given the above, this study aims to provide a comprehensive and objective review of the knowledge base on how digitalization and sustainability actually and potentially contribute to each other and highlight the key research that links these two megatrends. A comprehensive bibliometric analysis of academic literature is conducted to objectively visualize the research status quo across time, disciplines, and countries. The Web of Science (WOS) database was searched for relevant publications published between January 1, 1900, and October 31, 2021. The search returned 8629 publications, of which 3405 were identified as primary documents pertaining to the study presented below. The Scientometrics analysis identified prominent authors, nations, organizations, prevalent research issues and examined how they have evolved chronologically. The critical review of results reveals four main domains in research on the nexus of sustainability and digitalization including Governance, Energy, Innovation, and Systems. The concept of Governance is developed within the Planning and Policy-making themes. Energy relates to the themes of emission, consumption, and production. Innovation has associated with the themes of business, strategy, and values & environment. Finally, systems interconnect with networks, industry 4.0, and the supply chain. The findings are intended to inform and stimulate more research and policy-making debate on the potential interconnection between sustainability and digitization, particularly in the post-COVID-19 era.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15172
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • Digitalization
  • Scientometric analysis
  • Smart cities
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainable development goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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