Industry 4.0 ten years on: A bibliometric and systematic review of concepts, sustainability value drivers, and success determinants

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Cleaner Production






School of Business and Law




European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme


Ghobakhloo, M., Fathi, M., Iranmanesh, M., Maroufkhani, P., & Morales, M. E. (2021). Industry 4.0 ten years on: A bibliometric and systematic review of concepts, sustainability value drivers, and success determinants. Journal of Cleaner Production, 302, article 127052.


The fourth industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0, and the underlying digital transformation, is a cutting-edge research topic across various disciplines. Industry 4.0 literature is growing exponentially, overexpanding the current understanding of the digital industrial revolution through thousands of academic publications. This unprecedented growth calls for a systematic review of the concept, scope, definition, and functionality of Industry 4.0. Such systematic review should address the existing ambiguities and deliver a clear, comprehensive, and up-to-date overview of this phenomenon, including the possible implications for sustainability. Consistently, the present study carried out a systematic literature review of related articles, published online within the Industry 4.0 discipline until November 2020. The systematic literature review identified 745 eligible articles and applied extensive qualitative and quantitative data analysis methodically. The study provides a descriptive assessment of eligible articles’ properties and offers a unified conceptualization of Industry 4.0 and the underlying building blocks. The study explains how the implications of Industry 4.0 for value creation expand beyond the manufacturing industry. The study further describes the sustainability value drivers of the fourth industrial revolution and identifies the conditions on which digital industrial transformation success lays. Overall, findings reveal that Industry 4.0 transformation could address pressing issues of sustainable development goals, particularly concerning the manufacturing-economic development. The study also draws on the findings and offers important theoretical and practical implications, highlights the existing gaps within the literature, and discusses the possible future research directions.



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