Do We Consider Sustainability When We Measure Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SMEs’) Performance Passing through Digital Transformation?

Isotilia Costa Melo, Paulo Nocera Alves Junior, Geandra Alves Queiroz, Wilfredo Yushimito, Jordi Pereira

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Small-medium enterprises (SMEs) represent 90% of business globally. Digital Transformation (DT) affects SMEs differently from larger companies because although SMEs have more flexibility and agility for adapting to new circumstances, they also have more limited resources and specialization capabilities. Thus, it is fundamental to measure SMEs’ performance considering different perspectives. Here, we describe and analyze the state-of-the-art of DT in SMEs, focusing on performance measurement. We center on whether the tools used by SMEs encompass the triple bottom line of sustainability (i.e., environmental, social, and economic aspects). To do so, in December 2021, we performed a comprehensive systematic literature review (SLR) on the Web of Science and Scopus. In addition, we also explored a novel approach for SLR: topic modeling with a machine learning technique (Latent Dirichlet Allocation). The differences and interchangeability of both methods are discussed. The findings show that sustainability is treated as a separate topic in the literature. The social and environmental aspects are the most neglected. This paper contributes to sustainable development goals (SDGs) 1, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 12. A conceptual framework and future research directions are proposed. Thus, this paper is also valuable for policymakers and SMEs switching their production paradigm toward sustainability and DT.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4917
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Industry 4.0
  • digitalization
  • latent dirichlet allocation (LDA)
  • small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • topic modeling
  • triple bottom line of sustainability


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