Guest editors:
Mikkel Flyverbom, Copenhagen Business School
Ronald Deibert, Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
Dirk Matten, Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto


The importance of digital technologies for social and economic developments and a growing focus on data collection and privacy concerns have made the Internet a salient and visible issue in global politics. Recent developments, such as the information released by Edward Snowden and others, have increased the awareness that the current approach of governments and business to the governance of the Internet and the adjacent technological spaces raises a host of ethical issues.

Examples include states tracking citizens online, governments filtering or turning off the Internet at will, and corporations using personal data for commercial purposes. The significance and challenges of the digital age have been further accentuated by a string of highly exposed cases of surveillance and a growing concern about how states and corporations use digital traces to do various sorts of tracking and profiling of citizens and users. Despite this growing focus on digital formations, surprisingly little research has explored questions about the relations between business, governance and the Internet. This special issue of Business & Society, therefore invites scholars to explore what some have referred to as the ‘Internet-industrial complex’ -– the intersections between business, states and other actors in the shaping, development and governance of the Internet.


Relevant topics include, but are not limited to the following aspects:

  • The unclear relations between companies and governments in the Internet domain;
  • The roles and responsibilities of very visible Internet companies such as Google and Facebook;
  • The largely covert operations of state -­‐ and private actors in Internet surveillance, data aggregation and profiling;
  • Questions of Internet governance, such as new policy initiatives challenging the historical US control over core components of the Internet infrastructure;
  • Organizational developments, such as the emergence of multi-­stakeholder forums, where business, governments and civil society actors seek to shape the Internet domain;
  • The growing importance of large Internet companies in advocacy, policy debates and lobbying efforts. These developments include the increasingly visible and well-­resourced presence of Internet companies and Internet‐focused think tanks in settings such as Washington DC and Brussels, and the worldwide spread of policy directors, research centers and advocacy efforts funded by Internet companies;
  • The rapidly growing ecosystem of mobile phones and applications which allow for new communications and information experiences – even in in countries that have weak democracies or authoritarian regimes;
  • New questions about tracking and data sharing in mobile applications which can (and sometimes do) give themselves permission to access a wide range of users’ data contained in their devices, from contacts, to archives of text messages, to images and videos as well as geo‐location. Whether, how, and how often such data is shared with governments in particular jurisdictions, and to what extent device and application manufacturers proactively take steps to either filter or monitor users, are some of the most important questions of concerning government‐private sector interaction;
  • The growing focus on data as a resource for economic, organizational and regulatory developments. In this area, we see not only widespread excitement about ‘big data’, but also a growing focus on data protection and privacy, and an emergent pressure for corporations to be more transparent about their collection, use and recirculation of data;
  • The potential and real benefits of Internet usage and technological developments for wider society, and reflections on future avenues and possibilities for the governance of the Internet.

Types of Submissions

This special issue seeks to expand our knowledge of the intersections between business management, global governance and the digital domain. As such it invites contributions from a broad range of social and political science disciplines, including business, law, politics, international relations, sociology, and philosophy. The Special Issue will feature papers that pave new empirical and conceptual ground in this emergent field of research. We seek both papers that deliver in‐depth empirical explorations of the topic and papers providing theoretical conceptualization, analytical vocabularies and innovative methods for the understanding of the intersection between business and governance in the internet domain. We particularly encourage submissions that develop our theoretical understanding of the phenomena by showcasing relevant conceptual and analytical approaches, such as (but not limited to) institutional theory, actor‐network theory, cultural theory. This may include a variety of theoretical approaches from various social science disciplines including media studies, governance, organization and communication.

Submission process and schedule

  • Authors should submit their manuscripts through ScholarOne Manuscripts by March 1st, 2015 to
  • Be sure to specify in the cover letter document that the manuscript is for the special issue on “Governance of Digital Technology.”
  • Manuscripts should be prepared following the Business & Society author guidelines:
  • All articles will be double‐blind peer reviewed by at least three anonymous referees.
  • The editors welcome informal enquiries related to the proposed topics.
  • Authors of papers selected for publication will be invited for a manuscript development workshop (time and location TBA) before the final submission is due.

About the Journal

Business & Society is one of the leading journals at the intersection of business and issues of social responsibility, ethics and governance. It is published by SAGE and its current two‐year Citation Impact Factor is 1.936 (2012). It was ranked 31 out of 116 journals in the Business category of the 2012 Thomson Reuters Journals Citation Report (ISI). For further details see

For more information regarding this Call for Papers, please see here [pdf].