Registration Now Open!

Click here to register for R&D Management Conference 2021.

Unravelling the digital transformation of organizations by multi-level analysis :

Redesigning resources, competencies and capabilities

While digitization describes the process of the conversion of analogue and noisy information into digital data (Brennen and Kreiss, 2016), digitalization is used to describe any changes in the organization and its business model due to the increasing use of digital technologies (starting from those related to Industry 4.0, such as the Internet of Things, Additive Manufacturing, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Augmented and Virtual Reality, and BlockChain) to improve both business performance and scope (Westerman et al., 2011). Indeed, digitalization represents an opportunity for companies working in all kinds of industries, but at the same time brings important challenges (Porter and Heppelmann, 2015). As such, many changes led by digitalization are disruptive and often push the existing companies to completely redefine their business model (Souto, 2015; Rachinger et al, 2018). Consequently, working in the digital era requires that companies re-design their resources and competences, as well as develop new capabilities to integrate, build, and reconfigure internal and external resources/competences (Teece, 2007, 2012; Teece et al., 1997).

First, digitalization requires new competences of the employees, whose decision making can be supported by larger amount of data, by more effective visualization and simulation systems, and by an easier interaction with objects and machines (Dougherty and Dunne, 2012). Nevertheless, the potential improvement of the individual decision making at operative level may be hindered by a lack of digital competences of the employees, which can be partially solved by effective training programs. 

Second, digitalization affects also the internal collaboration among the employees, strengthening the opportunities to effectively interact with distant colleagues (Baralou and Tsoukas, 2015). This paves the way for new organizational forms, characterized by the presence of teams of less embedded, but more specialized workers. Even if such collaborations may improve group decision making, they may have negative organizational effects (e.g. on the organizational learning and on the construction of shared identity and values) (Umans et al., 2018).

Third, digitalization enables dramatic changes even at the organization level, since it may change the relationship between the firm and other external actors (Sia et al. 2016). New digital technologies ask for stronger relationships with universities, suppliers and customers, which can more easily participate to research projects and the co-creation of new products. Thus, these technologies may favour the participation of the organization to external networks, and its embeddedness in regional ecosystems (Sklyar et al., 2019).

The impact of digitalization at different organizational levels increases the complexity of the projects of digital transformation. The success of these projects requires not only a certain alignment between the top management and the employees, but also a better understanding of the effects of these projects on the whole organization (Legner et al., 2017). Accordingly, we propose to analyse factors affecting companies’ digitalization adopting a multiple-level investigation. Indeed, advancing the understanding of particular phenomena and, in turn, a field, may require expanding theoretical and empirical work to encompass multi-level effects, as individuals, teams, organizations, networks, and ecosystems (e.g. Hitt et al., 2007). The analysis of the relationship among these different organizational levels may be supported by the adoption of a micro-foundations approach on organizational routines and capabilities (Felin et al, 2012). Indeed, the ability to understand the relationship among individuals, processes and interactions, and structure, may increase the positive impact of digitalization at different organizational levels.


The aim of this Track is to gather high quality studies that deepen and enhance our understanding of the companies’ digitalization from a multi-level perspective. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following lines:

1) The impact of digitalization on the individual work of the employees

How does digitalization influence the individual searching capabilities?

How does digitalization influence the individual creativity?

How the employees’ capabilities may limit the benefits of digitalization?

Which kinds of employees’ training can favour a stronger exploitation of the benefits of digitalization?

2) The impact of digitalization on team work

How does digitalization influence team structure?

How does digitalization shape team coordination?

How does digitalization affect organizational learning?

How does digitalization affect organizational culture?

3) The impact of digitalization on the whole organization

How does digitalization affect the networking capabilities of the organization?

How does digitalization influence the embeddedness of the organization in regional ecosystems?

How does digitalization change companies’ business model?

What is the effect of digitalization on companies’ performance?

4) The impact of top management and employees on the implementation and success of digitalization

How do top management’s individual characteristics and behaviour influence the implementation and the success of digitalization projects?

How can top management overcome the possible employees’ resistance to change in digitalization projects?

How can a multilevel approach be implemented in digitalization projects?

How can a micro-foundations approach support a better understanding of digitalization projects?


  • Gianluca Murgia 
  • Adele Parmentola  
  • Antonio Messeni Petruzzelli  

Join us on Social Media