Perspectives on Digital Sustainability

Stürmer, Matthias (2019). Perspectives on Digital Sustainability (Unpublished). (Habilitation, Universität Bern, Phil.-nat. Fakultät)

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This habilitation thesis presents perspectives on digital sustainability, a novel concept connecting digitalization with sustainability. It explains why digital artifacts such as software or data have to meet technical characteristics of quality, transparency, semantics and multiple locations in order to serve society in the long term. However, these requirements are just necessary but not sufficient preconditions to consider digital artifacts sustainable. Their associated ecosystem of businesses, governments, and individuals must also meet the legal and organizational characteristics of open license, shared tacit knowledge, participation, good governance, and diversified funding. And, finally, sustainable digital artifacts must lead to ecological, societal and economical benefits.
This thesis statement is discussed in the introductory chapter of the habilitation. It connects and summarizes 13 refereed publications clustered in five perspectives on digital sustainability:
In the first perspective, the path of defining the concept of digital sustainability is summarized. This part starts with a publication that introduced an initial set of characteristics for digital sustainability (Stuermer, 2014). The following article connects digital sustainability with digital preservation (Stuermer and Abu-Tayeh, 2016). These studies have eventually led to an extended publication in a sustainability journal elaborating the basic conditions of digital sustainability in detail (Stuermer et al., 2017a).
The second perspective includes recent publications on open source software (OSS) research scrutinizing how patterns of digital sustainability are applied within the software development industry. One publication analyzes feature requests within the Eclipse OSS community (Heppler et al., 2016). The following article develops a maturity model of Inner Source, a special form of OSS development practices in an organization (Eckert et al., 2017). And one study in a computer science journal addresses different types of OSS governance by comparing independent and joint communities (Eckert et al., 2019).
The next perspective focuses on the procurement of information technology (IT) which involves critical topics of knowledge management and governance related to digital sustainability. Analyzing data crawled from the Swiss public procurement platform exposes lock-in effects, outsourcing decisions as well as multisourcing within the software industry. One article in this perspective introduces the methodology and the dataset pointing out the high level of direct awards within the IT sector (Stuermer et al., 2017b). Another publication tests hypotheses on contract choice in regard to knowledge specificity and task scope (Krancher and Stuermer, 2018a). And one study explains multisourcing decisions using a large dataset on public procurement of IT in Switzerland (Krancher and Stuermer, 2018b).
The subsequent perspective highlights open data and linked data as another form of sustainable digital artifacts. One publication proposes a framework permitting the measurement of the impact of open data (Stuermer and Dapp, 2016). Another article introduces linked open government data (LOGD), a kind of graph-structured open data stored in different kinds of platforms (Hitz-Gamper et al., 2019).
The final perspective extends the phenomenon of open data into the area of governmental services. By linking the concepts of public governance and open government one article shows how transparency and participation are achieved with digital tools (Stuermer and Ritz, 2014). Another publication includes an empirical analysis of the FixMyStreet open government platform in Zurich called “Züri wie neu” using open data and a user survey to identify the motivation of citizens using this digital tool (Abu-Tayeh et al., 2018).

Item Type:

Thesis (Habilitation)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Computer Science (INF)

UniBE Contributor:

Stürmer, Matthias Emmanuel


000 Computer science, knowledge & systems




Matthias Emmanuel Stürmer

Date Deposited:

19 Jul 2021 11:47

Last Modified:

19 Apr 2022 17:04

Uncontrolled Keywords:

digital sustainability




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