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"True Sharing" or "Sharing Economy" Fad?
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Business Administration. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Industrial Economics. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
2019 (English)In: / [ed] Bo Edvardsson, Anders Gustafsson, Mary Jo Bitner, Rohit Verma, 2019Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Despite the semantics, the “sharing economy” is not about true sharing (e.g., Belk 2014) but really about firms offering the benefits of owning goods without the burdens of ownership—the rental/access paradigm in service research (Lovelock and Gumesson 2004). In this new sharing paradigm conceptualized as collaborative consumption (Benoit et al. 2017), services firms take on the role of enablers by developing online platforms facilitating the peer-to-peer (P2P) exchanges of private resources—also called consumer-to-consumer (C2C) exchanges—forming a triadic relationship between peer providers and consumers.

While true sharing practices are not market-mediated, collaborative consumption practices in the “sharing economy” are market-mediated by platforms. In other words, consumers compensate peer providers monetarily for using their goods temporarily. That is, collaborative consumption practices are situated between true sharing practices and traditional market exchanges. 

However, there has been a lack of empirical research impeding the understanding of collaborative consumption. Most published articles on the phenomenon are conceptual or based on illustrations and anecdotes (e.g., Belk 2014; Benoit et al. 2017). In particular, scholarly research has yet to explore what participation motives for collaborative consumption are most related to people’s inclination towards the true sharing ethos, their trend orientation in the fad in the “sharing economy”, or a professional orientation (vs. amateurism).

The present study explores the different relationships between the three most important drivers of individual participation in collaborative consumption (i.e., cost-savings, social motives, and environmental concerns) and the participants’ orientation towards true sharing, the “sharing economy”, and professionalization. The results (see Table 1) are based on three OLS regression models, based on a survey of 381 active platform users, in the context of ridesharing. Cost-savings (β= .39, p< .001) and social motives (β= .34, p< .001), but not environmental concerns (ß= .08, p= n.s.) are significantly related to a truesharing orientation. Moreover, social motives (β= .27, p< .001) but neither cost-savings (β= .06, p= n.s.) nor environmental concerns (β= .09, p= n.s.) are significantly related to the “sharing economy” trend orientation. Finally, cost-savings (β= .11, p< .05), social motives (β= .22, p< .001), and environmental concerns (β= .18, p< .001) are significantly related to a professional orientation.

This study contributes to service research by focusing on the P2P or C2C consumer context that is specific to the collaborative consumption phenomenon and mostly empirically unexplored, and showing how it differs from access-based services with B2C interactions. Contrary to what would be expected (i.e. social motives would only be related with true sharing, and cost-savings more likely to be linked with the “sharing economy” trend), the study shows that social motives play a strong role for both orientations, as well as professionalization. That is, to benefit from the fad of the “sharing economy”, firms should balance their communication on cost-savings with an emphasis on the social aspects of collaborative consumption without falling into the pitfalls of “sharewashing”.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019.
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-160319OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-160319DiVA, id: diva2:1352344
Conference
QUIS16 symposium: “Advancing Service Research and Practice”, 10-13 June 2019. CTF Service Research Center, Karlstad University, Sweden.
Available from: 2019-09-18 Created: 2019-09-18 Last updated: 2019-09-18

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