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Industry 4.0: defining the research agenda

Amaya Erro-Garcés (Public University of Navarre, Pamplona, Spain)

Benchmarking: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-5771

Article publication date: 5 July 2019

Issue publication date: 21 May 2021




Industry 4.0 implies that global challenges exist within the manufacturing sector. Both theoretical and empirical research has been developed to support these transformations and assist companies in the process of changing. The purpose of this paper is to gather previous articles through an updated review and defines a research agenda for future investigation based on the most recent studies published in the field.


Key articles on the subject are analysed. The articles were published in 39 journals from which 107 papers dating from 2005 to 2018 have been selected.


The main findings imply the definition of a research agenda where: a common terminology should be created; the levels of implementation of Industry 4.0 should be defined; the stages of the development of Industry 4.0 should be identified; a lean approach for this industry is defined and the implications of Industry 4.0 in either a sustainable or circular economy should be understood; the consequences of human resources should be analysed; and the effects of the smart factory in the organisation are the areas identified and studied in the mentioned research agenda.

Research limitations/implications

This review has some limitations. First, a number of grey literature, such as reports from non-governmental organisations and front-line practitioners’ reflections, were not included. Second, only research studies in English and Spanish were reviewed.

Practical implications

This review helps practitioners in their implementation of Industry 4.0. Moreover, the identified future research areas may help to define priorities in this implementation.


After examining previous research, this paper proposes a research agenda covering issues about Industry 4.0. This research agenda should guide future investigations in the smart industry.



Erro-Garcés, A. (2021), "Industry 4.0: defining the research agenda", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 1858-1882.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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