The impact of Industry 4.0 on the reconciliation of dynamic capabilities: Evidence from the European manufacturing industries

Industry 4.0 offers massive potential for implementing sustainability, which is a growing concern for global manufacturing industries. This paper investigates the impact of the implementation of Industry 4.0 with specific emphasis on digital transformation on the sustainability dimensions of European manufacturing industries. In doing so, we propose a framework to identify the implications of Industry 4.0 on the reconciliation of the firm’s existing and new dynamic capabilities, competencies, and market requirements to achieve sustainable competitive advantage. Using a multiple case research design, we study six European manufacturing companies, including aerospace manufacturing (AM) and electronic component and systems (ECS) manufacturing. The novelty of our study lies in developing a set of theoretical propositions that reveals interrelations between Industry 4.0, the dynamic capabilities of the firm and distinct dimensions of sustainability. Our findings show that the reconciliation of dynamic capabilities mediates the impact of Industry 4.0 on economic, environmental, and social aspects. The study provides insights to practitioners to strengthen their dynamic capabilities in order to achieve sustainability while implementing Industry 4.0. Moreover, the findings also facilitate investment decisions in Industry 4.0 projects.