Sustainability: Are We All Talking About the Same Thing. State-of-the-Art and Proposals for an Integrative Definition of Sustainability in Information Systems
Degradation of the natural environment is presently attracting significant attention among the Information Systems (IS) academic community. Consequently, the subject of sustainability continues to gain a foothold in the mainstream of IS research. However, as the body of research grows, the exact meaning of sustainability is increasingly becoming a source of uncertainty. The absence of a clear definition of sustainability in the IS domain poses a challenge for operationalizing the concept and limits the methodological viability of research in the field. By means of a systematic literature review, this paper identifies problems related to diverging or even a complete absence of sustainability definitions in the relevant IS literature. The results reveal what constitutes a sound definition of sustainability as a characteristic of a stakeholder activity and a new perspective for Information Systems research on sustainability, in which an activity becomes a quantum of sustainability analysis. The paper discusses the broader implications for further research.