Review of Managerial Science

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 803–848 | Cite as

Managerial challenges of Industry 4.0: an empirically backed research agenda for a nascent field

  • Paul Schneider
Review Paper


The increasing intelligence of products and systems, their intra-company cross-linking and their cross-company integration into value creation networks is referred to as Industry 4.0. Academics and practitioners, largely agreeing on the global importance of this proclaimed industrial revolution, have published many contributions on the topic. Research, however, is rather focused on investigating single technologies in quite specific application domains and largely neglects the profound managerial challenges underlying Industry 4.0. Given the recent plea for a more active contribution from the management science community, we strive to establish Industry 4.0 as a challenging but promising field for management research, and aim to assist scholars in engaging with the topic. Therefore, we first gather and analyze extant contributions by means of a systematic literature review and synthesize the information gained into 18 managerial challenges of Industry 4.0 falling into six interrelated clusters: (1) strategy and analysis, (2) planning and implementation, (3) cooperation and networks, (4) business models, (5) human resources and (6) change and leadership. Considering that Industry 4.0 is still an emerging topic and publications may therefore not always be found in highly ranked journals, we aimed to increase the confidence in our findings and triangulated our data by conducting an online survey of industry experts and academics that allows us to qualify the identified challenges in terms of importance and future research need. On this basis, we present an empirically backed research agenda and suggest fruitful avenues for future research in three basic categories: practice-enhancing research, knowledge-enhancing research, and high-impact research.


Industry 4.0 Industrie 4.0 Industrial Internet Management Review Digitization 

JEL Classification

M19 O39 



The author gratefully acknowledges the valuable feedback received during the review process and at seminar presentations at the Department of Business Policy and Logistics of the University of Cologne. In particular, the author appreciates insightful comments from Stefan Stremersch on the methodological approach applied in Stremersch and van Dyck (2009). The author applied a slightly adapted approach in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Business Policy and LogisticsUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

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