New Companies’ DNA: the Heritage of the Past Industrial Revolutions in Digital Transformation

Elisa Martina Martinelli*, Maria Cristina Farioli, Annalisa Tunisini

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper debates the ongoing processes of digital transformation enhanced by the 4th industrial revolution in successful companies which have a long time business history and an international presence. The aim is analyzing how what they have experienced and learned in the 2nd and 3rd industrial revolutions represents key elements that have shaped their DNA and continue to inspire their transformation to the point that the gradual radical change concept is preferred to the concept of disruption. Such learning processes are primary values to transfer in companies’ digital transformation in order to implement it efciently and efectively creating new opportunities at an international level. The paper leverages on an explorative research based on the empirical setting of three international Italian manufacturing companies that have experienced challenges of the 2nd, 3rd and are now facing an important digital transformation process in a worldwide landscape. A qualitative constructive multiple case research design is conducted to evaluate the conceptual model and some considerations emerged from the analysis. The paper also benefts from 30 years of experience of one of the Authors as Business Development Director of big multinational companies accompanying many enterprises during their digital transformation. This study presents an interpretative framework that provides an exploration of main heritages coming from the past industrial revolutions according to three aspects: business drivers, supply view and entrepreneurial model. The emerged evidences can be taken as lessons by international manufacturing companies in order to implement digital transformation enhancing their international competitiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1079-1106
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Digital transformation
  • Industrial revolution
  • SMEs


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