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Smart cities: A literature review and business network approach discussion on the management of organisations

Christina Öberg (School of Business, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden)
Gary Graham (Business School, Leeds University, Leeds, UK)
Patrick Hennelly (Business School, Leeds University, Leeds, UK)

IMP Journal

ISSN: 0809-7259

Article publication date: 16 October 2017




The smart city idea refers to new ways of organising city functions and urban life, which are believed to move production and consumption from global to local, manufacturing from competitive to collaborative, and business from a shareholder to a multiple-stakeholder point of view. Most previous research has focussed on the societal level of smart cities, while less seems to be known about the management of business as part of smart cities. The purpose of this paper is to present a literature review on the state of the art of management research on smart cities. The following research question is addressed: How has previous research captured the management of organisations in smart cities?


A literature review using the search term “smart city/cities” in research on business, management, and operational management was conducted for the purpose of capturing previous research. Findings were coded based on main ideas, central concepts, and theories, thematic content of the articles related to the main ideas underpinning smart cities (digitalization, urbanisation, and sustainability as antecedents, and local, collaborative and multiple-stakeholder manufacturing as indicators), and units of analysis.


The paper points to how most studies on the management of organisations as part of smart cities focus on sustainability and how digitalisation enables new businesses. Collaborative efforts are emphasised and the theoretical framing is fragmented. Issues related to the organising of business is also not problematised and the business network approach could, as discussed in the paper, provide valuable insights related to the collaborative efforts of organisations and the multiple-stakeholder perspective.


The paper is the first to capture and present an overview of previous research on the management of business as part of smart cities. Research on smart cities has focussed on the policy and societal levels, and so far there is a lack of problematisation on how organisations may act, and potentially change their way of acting, should smart cities become a reality.



The authors would like to express their gratitude to the anonymous reviewers for providing constructive comments during the review process of this paper. The authors are also greatly thankful to the readers and reviewers at the IMP Journal Seminar in Manchester 2015 for their comments on an early version of this paper.


Öberg, C., Graham, G. and Hennelly, P. (2017), "Smart cities: A literature review and business network approach discussion on the management of organisations", IMP Journal, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 468-484.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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