Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

International Journal of Public Administration

For a Special Issue on

Digitalization, Sustainaibility and Public Sector Value Creation: New Perspectives under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Polar Star

Abstract deadline
01 November 2024

Manuscript deadline
15 April 2025

Cover image - International Journal of Public Administration

Special Issue Editor(s)

Sandro Brunelli, University of Rome Tor Vergata - Department of Management and Law
[email protected]

Giuseppe Nicolò, University of Salerno - Department of Management and Innovation Systems
[email protected]

Ferdinando Di Carlo, University of Basilicata - Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics
[email protected]

Camilla Falivena, SDA Bocconi - School of Management, Government, Health & Not for Profit Division
[email protected]

Submit an ArticleVisit JournalArticles

Digitalization, Sustainaibility and Public Sector Value Creation: New Perspectives under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Polar Star

Background and Several Topics/Questions of interest

The promotion and development of digital transformation and sustainability are the focus pillars of many international and national policy interventions (Agostino et al., 2022; Bernd et al., 2023; Broccardo et al., 2023). Understanding how these and other grand challenges are impacting the public sector and interwoven with management practices (Kosmala & Mc Kernan, 2011; Ferraro et al., 2015; Pollitt, 2015; Bowen et al., 2017; Guthrie & Dumay, 2021) is hence pivotal. Moreover, it is important to understand how public administration digitally transforms public service delivery by satifying sustainability needs, ultimately creating public value in their processes. In this era, the public value, when detected, is the result – also – of intricate socio-political ramifications of ICT and attention to sustainable development pillars in the public sector (Chua et al., 2022; Traskman, 2022; Chohan, 2023; St-Hilaire, 2023). As we all know, the debate around public value creation evolves continuously, and recently, scholars are devoting increasing attention to the management, organizational and accounting schemes for public value creation, adopting different standpoints.

There is a growing public demand for accountability, especially regarding the inbound process of public value creation (Kud, 2019; Krotel, 2021; Otia & Bracci, 2022; Cruz Dallagnol et al., 2023). To respond to this challenge, public administration scholars and practitioners should improve financial communication and deepen the various dimensions relevant to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), strictly linked to sustainability and digital transformation, and the relationship between social, economic and environmental value (Kramarz & Park, 2016; Bowen et al., 2017; Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al., 2018; Patten, 2020; Brunelli et al., 2021; He, 2022; Nicolò et al., 2023). In this view, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted in 2015 by the United Nations constitutes a global governance plan of action proposing a roadmap for national, regional and local governments as well as private sector organisations to navigate the major social, environmental and economic challenges. These are resumed in 17 SDGs, which affect five critical areas, including People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership ( Today, more than 65% of SDG objectives directly involve public administration, especially local communities, meaning that the public sector is essential in the transition toward sustainable development (Guarini et al., 2022; Ansell et al., 2022). Accordingly, the SDGs represent the backbone for public administration to set future strategies and policies for public value creation (Bisogno et al., 2023; Nicolò et al., 2023).

Against this backdrop, the UN, by a survey on the most populated worldwide cities, have emphasised the role of digital transformation and digital government programs. These turned out to be aligned and accelerating towards the realisation of SDGs ambitions at a regional and local level, aiming to enable the delivery of high-quality public services while respecting more efficient social and environmental resource usage (UN, 2022). Many goals can be achieved only by understanding and properly implementing sustainable and digital strategies. Intergenerational equity – the basic pillar of sustainability – is an ideal target achievable in practice only through new public value creation paradigms. Thus, the 2030 Agenda has a transformative power for the public sector, making the links between digitalisation, sustainability and public value creation inextricable. However, the public sector digitalization process generates challenges in terms of management competencies (Edelmann et al., 2023), risk management (Wirtz et al., 2017), and cross-country harmonization (Švarc et al., 2021). The United Nations used its authoritative power in place of the authoritarian ones of single countries by establishing non-binding goals, like the SDGs are. Talk the walk of UN SDGs with a timely focus on sustainability, digitalization and their mutual relationship for a better world is a hard-task research should not escape from.

Research in public administration and nonprofit areas, especially those from scholars (but also practitioners) active in the sub-domains of public financial and non-financial management must delve into how to manage these challenges, analysing the implications of digital transformations and sustainability practices in creating public value. Although several studies have been developed in different contexts and by adopting various viewpoints, we believe that there is room for studying deeper - especially adopting the lenses of evolution, co-evolution, production and co-production of public services – how sustainability and digitalization have been and will be incorporated in the daily activities carried out by public administration. There is a triple tier among sustainability, digitalization and value creation with potential to lead public administrations to sound financial position and fiscal stance. More in depth, saving costs and time would lead to higher efficiency, which, in turn, might allow public administration to a better resource allocation process, alongiside the possibility to invest public resources to face on important wicked issues (as the ones included in the SDGs).

Under these preambles, this special issue intends to stimulate scholars and practitioners to submit papers within the area of public administration and nonprofit management, including all research within the fields of public policy, public and nonprofit management, financial management and accounting, accountability,  public value creation and stakeholder management, engagement, metrics and communication.

 Research questions and arguments addressed by potential contributions to this symposium could include, but are not restricted to, the following topics:

  • The role of SDGs in the public administration value creation processes;
  • Digital transformation as a lever for public value creation;
  • Digitalization, Sustainaibility and Value Co-Creation in public administration and nonprofit management;
  • New and ICT-enhanced practices in report production and communication by governments, public and nonprofit institutions;
  • E-government, ICTs and SGDs achievement;
  • The relationship between financial and social variables of public value creation;
  • Management decision, SDGs and value creation;
  • Public policies and value creation;
  • Effects of digitalization on financial and non-financial reporting, decision making and accountability in the public sector; opportunities and challenges;
  • Theoretical and practical issues involved in Public Value management and accountability;
  • New perspectives on the use of performance information by stakeholders;
  • Transparency, sustainability and legitimacy of governments-based internal management developments;
  • Threats and opportunities associated with digitalization and sustainability challenges for public administration and nonprofit management.

 We welcome cutting-edge research realized through different and/or multiple research methods aimed at exploring historical and/or contemporary issues and investigating single or multiple settings. Papers should show sound theoretical development and application as well as rigorous empirical analysis using qualitative, quantitative and/or mixed methods. Without such kinds of theoretical and empirical contributions, it may be challenging to go through the peer review process. Particularly, we invite scholars to ensure that the theoretical contributions of the research proposed for this special issue are strong, given that IJPA promotes the theoretical development of the field(s) explored.

The key principle behind submissions should be a mind-blowing and provoking approach able to stimulate the needed changes in the evolutionary landscape of the public sector widely intended, and about the way(s) through public value can be created in the coming years under the polar star represented by the UN SDGs and relating it to the two main areas of sustainability and digitalization.

Submission Instructions

Proposals shall be submitted to the guest editors directly at  [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] by November 1st, 2024, with email subject title, “IJPA special issue: digitalization, sustainability and public value creation”. The submitted proposals should be no more than 500 words (excluding references).

The guest editors will inform authors of decisions on proposals by November 15, 2024. All proposals will be reviewed and evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • The relevance of the paper to some of the major themes above;
  • The research question(s) and the theoretical/conceptual foundations for the research, a brief description of methods and data;
  • The results to be reported;
  • The impact of the research – why it is cutting-edge and its contribution to the public administration field.

To foster wide participation from scholars active in these fields, a special track of the next Spring workshop of the EGPA Permanent Study group XII – Public Sector Financial Management – that will be held in Matera (Italy) on 9th and 10th May 2024 –  will be dedicated to testing and discussing early-stage research and related ideas for those interested in submitting for the special issue. Participation in the workshop and the related special track is not a submission prerequisite.


The key dates are listed below:

1st February 2024 – Abstract submission to the EGPA PSG XII workshop special track (please specify in the proposal that is for the special track on digitalization, sustainability and value creation);

15th April 2024 – Full paper submission to the EGPA PSG XII workshop;

9th and 10th May 2024 - EGPA PSG XII workshop;

1st November 2024 – Proposal due;

15th November 2024 – Decisions on the proposal;

15th April 2025 - Paper submission to the journal for peer review

Full Papers must follow the IJPA editorial guidelines. Please see the journal website.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article