Behind the definition of industry 4.0: Analysis and open questions
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SubjectIndustry 4.0; Fourth industrial revolution; Smart manufacturing; Definition; Conceptual framework; Literature review
The many scholars approaching Industry 4.0 today need to confront the lack of an agreed-upon definition, posing serious limitations to theory building and research comparability. Since its initial German conceptualization in 2011, both the technological landscape and the understanding of the Industry 4.0 have evolved significantly leading to several ambiguities. In parallel, similar concepts often used as synonyms − such as “smart manufacturing”, “digital transformation”, and “fourth industrial revolution” − have increased the sense of confusion around the scope and characteristics of the phenomenon. This study approaches the issue through an analysis of almost 100 definitions of Industry 4.0 and related concepts. The review of academic publications has been complemented by a selection of the most influential non-academic sources, including governmental bodies and consulting companies. Each definition has been broken down into its underlying technological and non-technological definitional elements. This categorization will serve as a basis for future research to approach the phenomenon in its multiple facets.
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