Green information technology systems refer to a combination of information technology innovations and environmental protection agenda or programs that is aimed at minimizing undesired effects of technology on the environment (Jenkin, Webster, & McShane, 2011). The adoption and implementation of green information technology systems within organizations is a complex issue because the use and disposal of computer hardware is directly harmful to the environment (Brocke, Watson, Dwyer, Elliot, & Melville, 2012). The role of technology in promoting or supporting environmental sustainability is argued to be partial, and has not been experienced fully (Seidel, Recker, & Vom Brocke, 2013). It is further argued that the numerous environmental problems facing the global society may not be solved by green technology alone. However, it is necessary to determine the extent to which green information technology systems impact on environmental sustainability in order to pave way for the design, development and implementation of innovative technologies, which would impact positively on the environment (Jenkin, Webster, & McShane, 2011).
What is the impact of green information technology systems on environmental sustainability?
1. To assess the role of green information technology systems in reversing the negative impact of information technology on the environment
2. To evaluate the impact of green information technology systems on energy efficiency in industrial production
3. To determine the impact of green information technology systems on the reduction of carbon emission and promoting environmental sustainability
According to Dedrick (2010), sustainable development is the leading agenda in research on green technologies. This is attributed to increased awareness among members of the public of the problems associated with greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Growth in the world population and the associated pressures on the environment also contribute to the increased awareness of the challenges communities would face in future if the effects of industrial production on the environment are not reversed (Gholami, Sulaiman, Ramayah, & Molla, 2013). However, the impact of green information technology systems in supporting environmental sustainability is relatively new in research agenda. This is because the importance of research on green information technology systems has not been adequately appreciated by the information systems community (Jenkin, Webster, & McShane, 2011). Because of this, there are notable gaps in literature on the actual impact of green information technology systems on environmental sustainability.
There are several themes emerging from existing research literature on green information technology systems. For instance, researchers seek to determine the role of green information technology systems in supporting demand for sustainable business processes (Information Resources Management Association, 2011). The need to revise the sustainability goals of organizations to include information technology considerations has also been studied extensively. Nonetheless, the distinction between green information technology systems and green information technology has not been agreed on. In accordance to Dedrick (2010), green information technology systems is concerned with the design and implementation of innovative technologies that contributes to energy savings, reduction of harmful gas emissions and environmental sustainability.
Research literature agrees that there are three main sustainability goals that can be linked to green information technology systems. These are eco-effectiveness, eco-equity and eco-efficiency (Brocke, Watson, Dwyer, Elliot, & Melville, 2012). The role of information systems in promoting efficiency, effectiveness and equity of business processes, especially industrial production, is associated with their growing importance in ongoing research (Seidel, Recker, & Vom Brocke, 2013). However, the actual impact of information systems in promoting equity in relation to access to natural resources has not been established through research. In addition, the role of green information technology systems in influencing change in business models for efficiency and effectiveness has not been clarified (Jenkin, Webster, & McShane, 2011).
Specific challenges face research efforts on green information technology systems. For example, there is lack of evidence-based solutions for influencing behavioral and economic solutions for the problem of environmental degradation (Information Resources Management Association, 2011). In addition, there is inadequate information for supporting evidence-based design, development and implementation of innovative information systems solutions for improved efficiency of energy supply and demand (Gholami, Sulaiman, Ramayah, & Molla, 2013). It is argued that research methods that seek to define the actual impact of green information technology systems on environmental sustainability will overcome most of these challenges.
Murugesan & Gangadharan (2012) propose that research efforts and agenda on green information technology systems should consider specific phenomena that are related to the real life problem at hand: reversing the undesired impact of information technology on the environment. According to Murugesan & Gangadharan (2012), research on green information technology systems should be aimed at influencing changes in the design of policies on the environment, the economy and the design of organizational models. The significant impact of technology on energy and carbon productivity is indisputable. However, it is necessary to determine how this impact can be reversed or mitigated through the adoption of green technologies and information systems (Gholami, Sulaiman, Ramayah, & Molla, 2013).
Dedrick (2010) argues that it is through the understanding of the interaction of information systems with the energy that is used in industrial production that the impact of innovative technologies on carbon productivity can be clarified. Velte, Velte, & Elsenpeter (2008) add that IT investment policies need to be influenced by valid research evidence in order to implement systems and business models that will support sustainable carbon productivity. The motivation for design, development and implementation of green information technology systems and related technologies is not supported by adequate empirical literature (Gholami, Sulaiman, Ramayah, & Molla, 2013). This means that there is need for additional research on green information technologies that seek to determine its impact on environmental sustainability. This is important because it will influence IT decisions of organizations and the willingness of information systems managers to support eco-efficiency objectives and goals. The reviewed literature reveals that green information technology systems have a direct influence on the performance of organizations in relation to their sustainability agenda.
In accordance to Murugesan & Gangadharan (2012), green information technology systems should have a positive impact on beliefs and actions on environmental sustainability. Notably, green information technology systems represent effective techniques of designing information technology applications that integrate energy demand and supply data in supporting the sustainability agenda of organizations and public programs on the environment (Brocke, Watson, Dwyer, Elliot, & Melville, 2012). The reviewed literature on green information technology systems is comprehensive but is limited to qualitative data on its influence on eco-friendly practices. This demonstrates the need for statistical data that would indicate the extent to which green information technology systems impact on sustainability. Such data will motivate the design of innovative technologies for improved sustainability of industrial processes (Gholami, Sulaiman, Ramayah, & Molla, 2013).
There is vast empirical data on the role of green information technology systems in promoting sustainability. Researchers demonstrate that green information technology systems can promote sustainability in the consumption of power and in supporting public awareness on the importance of energy efficiency for sustainable development (Information Resources Management Association, 2011). The implementation of green information technology systems also influences the support of energy service centers and networks that are aligned with sustainability policies and objectives (Gholami, Sulaiman, Ramayah, & Molla, 2013). Furthermore, innovative developments in green information technology systems are the prerequisites to the implementation of smart technologies. From both environmental and ethical perspectives, researchers show optimism that it is through green information technology systems that sustainable development can be achieved (Brocke, Watson, Dwyer, Elliot, & Melville, 2012). Nonetheless, it remains important to determine the impact of green information technology systems in supporting or promoting sustainability objectives.
Secondary data on sustainability agenda, including the formulation of environmental sustainability policies and objectives, investment on sustainability initiatives and the economic impact of sustainability programs must be collected in order to assess the general state of environmental sustainability initiative. In addition, secondary data on the rate of adoption and implementation of green information technology systems within organizations and production companies will be required in order to determine the impact of green technologies in promoting eco-efficiency, eco-equity and eco-effectiveness.
A comparative analysis of the proposed secondary data will be needed in order to determine the actual impact of green information technology systems on environmental sustainability. Secondary research method and meta-analysis of existing data will be carried out in order to gather reliable empirical data to support the objectives of the proposed scientific inquiry. Statistical data on the rate of implementation of green information technology systems within organizations will be gathered in order to achieve accurate and valid assessment of the impact of these technologies in supporting environmental sustainability.
Brocke, J. V., Watson, R. T., Dwyer, C., Elliot, S., & Melville, N. (2012). Green information technology systems: directives for this discipline.
Dedrick, J. (2010). Green IS: concepts and issues for information systems research. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 27(1), 11-18.
Gholami, R., Sulaiman, A. B., Ramayah, T., & Molla, A. (2013). Senior managers’ perception on green information technology systems (IS) adoption and environmental performance: Results from a field survey. Information & Management, 50(7), 431-438.
Information Resources Management Association. (2011). Green technologies: Concepts, methodologies, tools and applications. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
Jenkin, T. A., Webster, J., & McShane, L. (2011). An agenda for ‘Green’information technology and systems research. Information and Organization, 21(1), 17-40.
Murugesan, S., & Gangadharan, G. R. (2012). Harnessing green IT: Principles and practices. Wiley Publishing.
Seidel, S., Recker, J. C., & Vom Brocke, J. (2013). Sensemaking and sustainable practicing: functional affordances of information systems in green transformations. Management Information Systems Quarterly, 37(4), 1275-1299.
Velte, T., Velte, A., & Elsenpeter, R. C. (2008). Green IT: reduce your information system's environmental impact while adding to the bottom line. McGraw-Hill, Inc..
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