Conference PaperPDF Available

Integrated Value Configurations in the Sharing Economy

Authors:
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers, Munich, Germany
  • media Akademie - Hochschule Stuttgart (mAHS)

Abstract and Figures

Sharing has become a new trend in business that heavily affects the ways how firms do business. Despite this important development, research by now only provides rudimentary insights into value configuration mechanisms applied in the sharing economy. Our paper that is inspired by extant research on value creation configurations as well as recent business model research develops a model of an integrated value network for the sharing economy. We explain that focal firms in sharing economy networks ground their business model configuration in the application of web-based technology. We further point to two dimensions that determine the positioning of the business model: the degree of individualization vs. standardization of the content and the degree of completeness of property rights.
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Integrated Value Configurations in the Sharing Economy
Andreas J. Reuschl
University of Bayreuth
andreas.reuschl@uni-
bayreuth.de
Ricarda B. Bouncken
University of Bayreuth
bouncken@uni-bayreuth.de
Sven M. Laudien
University of Erfurt
sven.laudien@uni-erfurt.de
Abstract
Sharing has become a new trend in business that
heavily affects the ways how firms do business.
Despite this important development, research by now
only provides rudimentary insights into value
configuration mechanisms applied in the sharing
economy. Our paper that is inspired by extant
research on value creation configurations as well as
recent business model research develops a model of an
integrated value network for the sharing economy. We
explain that focal firms in sharing economy networks
ground their business model configuration in the
application of web-based technology. We further point
to two dimensions that determine the positioning of the
business model: the degree of individualization vs.
standardization of the content and the degree of
completeness of property rights.
1. Introduction
Sharing has become an important issue in today`s
economy leading to a need for restructuring value
creation, value delivery, and value capture activities.
Researchers recently try to better understand and
adequately mirror the phenomenon of the sharing
economy which is continuously growing in scale and
scope [1-5]. The sharing economy comprises all
activities related to sharing or granting access to goods
and services among peers [1]. Interestingly, sharing
seems to provide greater value for customers in
utilizing products or services compared to ownership
[3, 5, 6]. So far, scholars concentrated on mentioning
successful cases of sharing economy business models.
For example, Airbnb as becoming largest provider of
accommodation without owning a single hotel or
apartment building [2]. Uber is unsettling the taxi
industry without owning a single vehicle. Several
firms are following the sharing trend by starting
models for e.g. sharing cars [6-8], sharing
accommodation [9], sharing wifi-connection,
computers, services like child care, and even sharing
food [5]. The recent advancements in ICT provide the
groundwork for these newly developing business
models as they allow for an easy connection between
key partners [5].
Nonetheless, we still lack an understanding of
value creation, value delivery, and value capture
configurations that determine sharing economy
business models on in business-to-consumer (B2C)
and also business-to-business (B2B) settings. Apple or
Dell, for example, already forgo the acquisition of
production facilities and rather ‘buy access’ to the
production capacities of Foxconn [10]. The emerging
(Industrial) Internet of Things that is characterized by
an in-depth connection of machines, processes, and
production facilities with internet-based applications
that offers several opportunities for creating sharing-
based business models [11, 12]. The (Industrial)
Internet of Things digitally accesses machines and
production facilities, allowing their integration into
sharing economy business models [5, 6]. However,
previous research does only partially provide
information about business models in the sharing
economy [3, 5, 8]. We lack a distinct framework for
generic strategic paradigms such as theory of the
competitive advantage [13] or the resource based view
of the firm [14] which cannot explain the constitutive
role of web-based technology that configures and
coordinates value creation, value delivery, and value
capture in the sharing economy. New approaches
modelling value configuration are needed for the
sharing economy.
Therefore, we aim at understanding different ways
of value creation, delivery, and capture that have
emerged in the context of the sharing economy. We
develop a model of an integrated value network that
may serve as blueprint for sharing economy business
models. Our results assist managers in achieving and
intensifying the proclaimed advantages of the sharing
economy.
Our model builds upon ideas of the value creation
framework of Stabell and Fjeldstad [15], extending it
through insights of the internet economy [16], as well
as developing it towards the sharing economy by
applying the business model approach [17]. We draw
upon case examples for better understanding of the
sharing economy. Our model of an integrated value
network is constituted by an information system
technology that builds the kernel of the value
configuration that relies on and combines different
activities within a focal firm and its network [18].
Activities relate to the combination of virtual and real
goods or virtual solutions for the shared use of real
goods [17]. Using the case examples on the content,
the structure of the business model and its governance,
we find two dimensions of the integrated network:
One dimension is the degree of standardization vs.
individualization of the content. The second
dimension refers to the control of real goods. If a focal
firm owns the goods fully respectively has more
complete property rights is can better define the usage,
change, coordination, and design of the good. With
complete property rights the focal firm in the value
network which does not have to consider the interest
of other owners in their sharing economy business
model. Instead, more particularized ownership
respectively fewer property rights might force the
focal firm considering the interests of several private
owners, who might have socio-emotional interests that
require adaptations of the positioning and technical
system. We portray different examples of sharing
economy business models along the two dimensions,
providing additional guidance for managers and
integrated system solutions.
2. Theory background
2.1 Sharing Economy
Researchers describe the sharing economy as
“peer-to-peer-based activit[y]ies of obtaining, giving,
or sharing the access to goods and services,
coordinated through community-based online
services” [1, p. 1]. The sharing economy comprises all
forms of sharing activities organized as web-based
interactions [1, 5]. Similar approaches like the digital
economy are still vague concepts (…) about
dynamics, not static efficiency (…), about new
activities and products [rather] than about higher
productivity.” [19, p. 246]. Hamari, Sjöklint [1]
emphasize the importance of ICT in the sharing
economy. The sharing economy provides a higher
(perceived) value of goods and services as they are
immediately and directly made available for
customers at the point in time when they are needed -
a process, that is intensively supported by web-based
solutions [5]. The web-based connectivity enables
consumers to connect, to exchange information, and to
coordinate sharing activities which results in the
development of innovative business models that are
new to the market [20]. Pohjola [21] concludes that the
worldwide web integrates markets, links market
participants across boundaries, and contributes to the
emergence of globally unified markets. The concept of
collaborative consumption of goods and services in the
sharing economy [3] changes consumers’ attitude
towards property and ownership. Belk [5] argues that
the web facilitates sharing unused assets with partners
to maximize the utility these assets generate. This
leads to a collaborative consumption with “people
coordinating the acquisition and distribution of a
resource for a fee or other compensation” [5, p. 1597].
The consequence is dramatic: Customers and
consumers lose interest in ownership or long-term
property rights and focus on distinct access rights that
allow to make use of goods and services only for the
limited time span when their utilization is necessary
[3, 5, 6]. This trend impacts B2C relations and B2B
relations as especially ongoing technical
improvements allow to ‘share’ production capacities
and thus to integrate production capacities into sharing
systems [5, 11, 12]. Taking upon these potentials
requires an understanding how value is created,
delivered, and captured in the sharing economy.
2.2 Three creation models by Stabell and
Fjeldstad (1998)
Two very dominant paradigms in strategic
management research are the competitive strategy
framework drawing upon Porter (i.e. [22, 23]) and the
resource based view of the firm [14, 24, 25]. Both
opposite perspectives offer well-accepted generic
explanations for firms’ success but insufficiently
specific answers for explaining how firms create,
deliver, and capture value in the sharing economy.
Stabell and Fjeldstad [15] investigated value creation
in at time of the first era of e-commerce, specifically
considering technologies and network relations. Firms
can follow three distinct models of value creation the
value chain as proposed by Porter, the value shop that
deploys technology and know-how to solve individual
clients’ problems, and the value network that offers
network services [15].
The value chain explains firms as systems that
transform input into output. Value chains apply long-
linked technologies that allow a sequential process
driven production [15, 26]. Rayport and Sviokla [27]
used the music industry to illustrate firms’ competition
in the “real” world and in the worldwide web. Firms
integrate digital value adding functions into their value
chain to increase the transparency of real processes in
the virtual environment (visibility), to exchange real
processes through virtual ones (mirroring
capabilities), and to establish new customer
relationships. However, online value creation differs
from the linear value chain as it needs non-linear
activities of gathering, organizing, selecting,
synthesizing, and distributing information [27]. Laffey
[28] introduced a click chain to explain digital value
creation based on a case study of a financial
comparison website. The primary activities are
replaced by inbound clicks (visitors to the website),
operations (matching users and products), outbound
clicks (transfer of visitors to product providers),
marketing and sales (marketing for users and product
providers), and services. This model recognizes the
digital value creation through information flows of
comparison websites. Yet, value configurations in the
sharing economy are not fully based upon a sequential
value chain model where value is added by long-
linked technologies.
The configuration value shop comprises
individualized one-to-one services by experts. Firms
organized as value shops typically try to solve non-
linear problems for customers as by architects,
consultants, or e.g. medical services. Value shops first
have to identify problems, solve these problems
(generate alternative solutions), choose a solution
(decision between alternative solutions), execute the
solution (solution implementation), and control and
evaluate the results (control implementation success).
Value shops rely on intensive technologies
(customized combination of resources, capabilities,
and technology) for their primary activities [15, 26].
Thus, the value shop falls short in explaining both the
standardized and individualized customized service-
goods- combination over the internet and via IT.
Value networks concentrate on mediating
capabilities between the single levels of a supply chain
(vertical) or the mediating capabilities between
customers and e.g. other networks. The primary
activities of value networks consist of network
promotion and contract management (managing
networks and fees), service provisioning (managing
the links between participants), and network
infrastructure operation (hardware maintenance).
Examples are telephone firms, retail banks, and postal
services. Following Thompson [26], Stabell and
Fjeldstad [15] highlight mediating technologies for
value networks which enable links between customers,
organizations, and further actors.
Yet, the sharing economy uses not only a vertical,
but also horizontal integration which is fundamentally
constituted by (IT-)technology. IT has a central role
for creating, coordinating, and constituting the
structure of a business model. The limited
understanding of value configuration in the sharing
economy with its core web-based technologies, the
network of partners, and the different activities by
diverse providers, possibly as a specific value layer or
platform of its own can take upon a new approach in
management, the business model innovation [29].
2.3 Business model innovation
At the outset of e-commerce, researchers have
proposed that future strategic management will be
about business models [29-31]. BM and their
innovation stem from the creation and capture of value
from the combination of activities (e.g. IT and
operations) into solutions, which can be products and
services, and models how to capture and protect the
value of, specifically when acting within a network
[32]. Business model innovation (BMI) raised interest
in research as well as business practice [33]. BMI is
often associated with radically new business models
that foster growth as well as the emergence of a
competitive advantage [29]. Researchers very often
employ an activity-based perspective departing from
the definition that a business model is “…a system of
interdependent activities that transcends the focal firm
and spans its boundaries.’’ [34, p. 216] and focusing
on an analysis of new value creation logics [35]. BM
and their innovation build on a combination of
activities among firms in a network and away from the
focus on product (innovation) and their best strategic
positioning and pricing to achieve a competitive
advantage [36]. According to Amit and Zott [29, 30,
36] a business model is a combination of the three
design elements content, structure, and governance
[37]. Content depicts the activities that are performed
within the activity system. It includes the exchange of
products, services, and information between the
various network partners as well as the capabilities
required to enable this exchange. Structure aims at the
linkages and the sequencing of the system’s activities.
Network size or the flexibility and adaptability of the
system fall into this context. Governance describes by
whom the activities are performed as well as the locus
and nature of control of transactions within the activity
system.
BMI is the result of novel combinations of
activities that allow for ways of value creation,
delivery, and capture that are new to the market [38].
BMI can even take place under conditions of resource
scarcity as it does not necessarily require new
resources [35] – an aspect that deserves attention in the
context of our research setting as it contradicts the
traditional resource-based view. New ways of creating
value become manifest in new products or services.
Value delivery is innovated when the firm introduces
new ways of bringing the value to the customer (e.g.
offline content vs. online content) as part of the
business model. Value capture comes from employing
e.g. membership fees or a transaction-based payment
model rather than traditional product- or service-based
payment models. Activities go beyond the mere use of
technologies [39] and cross the boundaries of single
firms, being often embedded in networks and using the
internet [30]. Thus, the business model approach is
well suited for explaining value creation in the sharing
economy.
3. Empirical proceeding
As we approach a by now widely unexplored
phenomenon and look for in-depth insights, a
qualitative way of proceeding is suitable [40]. Our
research approach focuses on theory building and is
inductive in nature as we do not make use of
predefined propositions derived from literature (as e.g.
suggested by Yin [41]), but let the data itself speak.
Table 1. Case-examples
Case firm
Year
Description
Airbnb 2008
Peer-to-peer network that enables users to share
their accommodation.
Car2Go 2008
Car2Go (Daimler AG) offers a car sharing
network with cars from Smart and Mercedes
Drive-
Now
2011
DriveNow (Sixt AG, BMW AG) offers a car
sharing network with cars from BMW and Mini.
Enterprise
1957
Enterprise was founded in the USA and is the
largest american car rental company.
Europcar 1949
Europcar was founded in France and is a major
European car rental company.
Flinkster 2009
Flinkster belongs to the German railway company
Deutsche Bahn and offers car sharing.
Fon 2005
Fon operates a sharing economy approach for
wifi-networks.
Get-
around
2009
Getaround provides a peer-2-peer car sharing
network.
Green-
Wheels
1995
Greenwheels is the largest car sharing network in
the Netherlands.
Hapimag 1963
Members of Hapimag are shareholders, invest in
HILTI 1941
The Hilti AG is a premium manufacturer for
tools. Hilti also offers a tool rental model.
Lending-
Club
2006
LendingClub is a US-based peer-to-peer money
lending network.
My-
Hammer
1999
Myhammer offers an online network that
mediates (handicraft) services.
Turo 2009
Turo (formerly RelayRides) provides a peer-2-
peer car
sharing network.
Sixt 1912
Sixt was founded in Germany and is a major
European car rental company.
Task-
Rabbit
2008
TaskRabbit offers a network for all kinds of
services on-demand.
UBER 2009
Uber offers an application for a peer-to-peer
network for taxi services.
Zaarly 2011
Zaarly provides a network where users create
own stores and offer goods or services to users.
Following case study literature [40, 42] we
selected 18 case firms. To ensure that the cases match
our research focus, we applied specific selection
criteria for the case firms: (1) all case firms are part of
the sharing economy and employ business models that
are based on the idea of sharing –checked by looking
at the webpages of the firms. (2) Our sample is not
limited to a specific group of firms (e.g. service firms)
as the idea of sharing seems to be of relevance
irrespective of the nature of firm offerings. (3) We
excluded firms that do not conduct market operations
on a regular base and non-profit firms because value
creation then follows different principles.
Our main data source is archival data as we needed
to draw a holistic picture of the firm and had to take
into account variations of value creation strategies
over time that influence the design of the business
model. We collected firm-internal data (e.g.
information provided on webpages or in annual
reports) as well as data from external sources such as
press coverage. In case of missing information, we
contacted the firms and conducted several telephone-
based open interviews that we carefully recorded and
transcribed. A short overview over the case firms is
given in table 1.
Following suggestions by literature [42, 43]
applied an iterative data analysis process. In a first
step, we created write-ups for each individual case to
condense the available data. These write-ups were
analyzed based on a strict coding procedure. In a
second step, we compared the individual case results
conducting a cross-case analysis. In doing so, we
followed suggestions by case study literature [42]. The
emerging categories are presented in the results part of
our paper. The highly iterative process of analyzing
case data was carried out independently by two
researchers to enhance rigidity and to ensure
consistency of our findings.
4. Integrated Value Network in the
Sharing Economy
4.1 Basic understanding
From the theoretical and empirical background
presented above we develop the concept of an
integrated value network for the sharing economy. The
sharing economy is basically about creating and
maintaining networks. The term network relates to two
aspects, (1) the actors in this economy, and (2) the
technological linkages within the network. Both
networks are first of all coordinated and integrated by
web-based technologies. Further, integration means
that networks do not operate on a free flow of virtual
information without limitations in scale and scope.
The integrated networks in the sharing economy are
formed to support the distribution of real physical
goods, such as cars, houses, or devices. Therefore,
focal firms providing real shared goods face stronger
coordination needs than only providing information.
In contrast to physical goods, information is easily
transferable, does not outwear by use, and can move
with high speed through virtual environments. Thus,
the sharing economy requires the combination of
activities within and among firms, and as such
integration activities within the network, mainly
coordinated by IT and by an internet based platform.
Constituted through the information technology
over the web, integrated value networks produce,
coordinate and/or offer goods and/or services in
networks. Firms combine these activities at different
intensities internally or externally. A firm may decide
to only build cars, sell them to sharing communities,
and organize car maintenance a way of proceeding
that is characteristic for Volkswagen. The firm might
also establish a sharing community of its own and
operate this sharing community an approach Daimler
and BMW have set into practice by establishing car
sharing providers such as DriveNow (BMW) and
car2go (Daimler). A firm might even almost fully
combine all activities in the integrated network for the
dominant coordination of a user network and control
over value creation, delivery, and capture. Integrated
value networks can also include several partners
contributing complementary goods or services while
extending the activity base, the customer base, more
generally by increasing heterogeneity – a way of
proceeding we see related to car sharing in case of
flinkster, the car sharing provider of Deutsche Bahn
that was introduced to provide a service for customers
that allows them to easily reach places that are not
integrated into the German railway system. Flinkster
is remarkable as it is a role model for sharing economy
business models that considerably extend the scope of
action of firms by providing the opportunity to access
new markets and customers.
Some firms such as DriveNow or Car2Go use
social networks to access their customer base, to create
lock-in effects, or to improve marketing. A horizontal
integration offers additional synergetic advantages.
For example, embedding car sharing communities in
or connecting them with social networks can optimize
occupancy, create marketing effects, or facilitate the
development of additional services. Besides vertical
and horizontal integration, value networks can take
upon real innovation ecosystems. The sharing
economy is about communication, information, or
digital media networking and further on the co-
creation, co-ownership, and co-utilization of goods
and services in the reality. In contrast to digital media,
real goods like cars have fewer utilization possibilities
and cannot be transferred from one user to another
without coordination cost and a physical base.
Services can be delivered only once at a time by a
single provider. Drawing on Stabell and Fjeldstad [15]
we develop drivers for value configurations.
Optimum. The sharing economy can take upon
positive externalities of value networks as outset by
Stabell and Fjeldstad [15]: The value of the network
for its users increases with every additional user who
joins the network – as long as the additional user is not
only a passive recipient of value, but actively
contributes to value creation. For car sharing, more
users are not beneficial as they can cause drawbacks
for existing users in terms of availability of cars and in
a second step maybe also prices for cars. Platforms
such as Airbnb (accommodation) or MyHammer
(craft), more users or members will enhance the value
of the network as each new participant brings in new
resources into the sharing network. The sharing
economy is not only on virtual goods but on real goods
and services and goods at the same time. It provides
real goods and services too. Thus, sharing
communities will have an optimal size.
Capacity utilization. Firms in the sharing economy
need to own or integrate other owners of physical
goods and provide a system of networked transaction
possibilities. Car sharing providers, for example, need
a sufficiently size of the user network to secure
profitability which is small enough to guarantee
availability this builds a challenge for car sharing
providers as their profitability is still rather very low.
The network should allow a constant utilization of the
cars. Once a firm reaches the critical scale and
composition of its network, the capacity utilization is
critical for earnings and cost reduction. Thus, the
optimum network size refers to the average frequency
of usage of cars and not to peak times. In other words:
sharing economy networks have consider serving all
customers who are willing to pay for their service.
Learning. With increasing speed of innovation and
shortening product lifecycles integrated value
networks’ ability to learn and adapt to new
developments regarding technology, demands, and
e.g. regulations is crucial. As users do not buy
products, they can easily change service providers.
Firms constantly need to integrate new trends. It gives
the opportunity for new late – market entrants
offering the most recent technology. This contradicts
the ideas of generic strategies as we do not necessarily
see a disadvantage for late movers in the sharing
economy.
Quality. As the web offers easy information access
and comparison possibilities we see quality as an
important feature that influences the competitive
position. The understanding of quality in the context
of the sharing economy becomes bigger. Besides
traditional criteria (e.g. performance, speed of
processing, data security) the uptime of services, and
uniqueness are important for standardized goods.
Sustainability is another driver for the sharing
economy [1]. Firms starting to participate in the
sharing economy should consider this trend and take
sustainability as a dimension of quality into account.
4.2 Content as specific feature of sharing
economy business models
Sharing economy business models can like all
other business models first of all be characterized by
their content [30, 34]. The content of activity systems
represents the selection of specific goods or services.
Surprisingly, sharing economy BM do not necessarily
offer a completely new content, they very often only
make content more flexible or more detailed than
established BM. New content can also base on new IT
solutions (e.g. augmented reality) for firms’ standard
operations or physical equipment. Content is very
often less standardized have in mind an apartment
your rent via Airbnb - than it is the case related to
traditional business models (e.g. hotel rooms of one
hotel group such as Westin & Marriott or Penta
normally look very much alike). The content design
applies to the ongoing trend for individualization.
Sharing economy business models can bring
customized solutions, especially when they combine
services and physical goods.
4.3 Constituting technology as key structural
design element
The structure element of the BM is crucial for
sharing economy business models as linking the
different partners and network participants calls for an
exaggerate utilization of technological solutions.
Activities might be provided by the firm itself and thus
to a large proportion linked internally or combined
within a network of firms, needing more linkages to
other firms in the network. Our cases show that firms
in integrated networks of the sharing economy need
integration mechanisms that link the digital value
proposition in networks with their products and
services in the real world. Value is created through the
integration of real and virtual networks, merging
digital demand with physical offers. Large car sharing
networks (car2go, DriveNow) rely on a digital activity
system that enables the availability of ‘real’ cars at the
right time, at the right place, in the right quality, for all
demanding customers. The availability of technology
determines the network size these firms can handle.
Going back to the start of car sharing as community –
based, locally centered idea in the early 1970s, the
necessity to exchange the car, keys, documents, and a
paper-based booking system made it impossible for
strangers to participate in the community. People
needed to know each other an aspect that has been
erased by modern ICT. Accommodation sharing
networks also rely on effective digital systems that
enhance the availability and facilitate the booking
transactions for housing possibilities – without such a
support it would for example be impossible to link
customers and owners of private accommodation on
Airbnb. Only if the integration of digital networks in
real ecosystems is successful, integrated value
networks can achieve competitive advantages.
However, the real world offers only limited space for
the positioning of products and services.
Chesbourgh [39] puts technology at the core of a
business model but claims that a business model
always goes beyond the pure technology because
technology has to be combined with other
technologies or with other operations to bring a value
for others, particularly customers. Thus, IT can build
elements of a technology or connect technology and
operations. Thompson [26] differentiates long-linked
(sequential transformation of inputs into outputs),
intensive (technology and techniques to resolve
unique problems), and mediating technologies
(technology and techniques to facilitate exchange
between customers). However, technologies linking
customers converged or lost importance in the past
decades while the world wide web evolved as a focal
technology to link individuals, firms, and institutions.
The web enables telephoning, mailing, and e.g.
processing financial transactions. Further, it creates a
digital market place that integrates customers and
firms regardless of time and space. Some firms
specialize in providing and maintaining technical
internet infrastructures, but all firms can access the
internet. Mediating technology cannot explain the
constituting and coordinating role of internet
technology to produce services and products while
linking actors at the same time. Success of firms like
Uber or Airbnb does not reside (only) because they
link customers, but in their ability to constitute,
administer, and coordinate a network of self-linking
individuals. Amazon is, for example, not only about
logistics and product variety, but constituting,
administrating and coordinating customer networks
that engage in evaluating products. Facebook is not
only mediating between users, but offering a network
services that facilitate and regulate the exchanges and
interaction between customers. The web allows
customers to access information easily, to form
(temporary) networks independently, and to solve
problems in a collaboratively. Thus, constituting,
administrating, and coordinating technologies refer to
spaces, platforms, and services that provide a
structuring element for self-linking evolutionary
communities.
4.4 Governance framing interaction
All these technology-enabled interactions call for
coordination and control leading to governance [34],
which determines who carries out certain activities.
Governance has many faces, one is the regulation of
participation and responsibility. For example, the
sharing economy demands regulations about who is in
charge of maintenance activities or activities that are
necessary to enhance as well as preserve the value of
the shared good. Insufficient governance, especially
about maintenance and design of the physical good
might cause network problems or network dissolution.
Our case studies indicate that centralized and more
formal governance by the focal firm has a dominant
coordination function in integrated value networks.
Yet, centralized governance should enable self-
regulated coordination among users. Thus, informal
governance - the decentralized and self-regulated
coordination among users - stands on the shoulders of
formal governance and builds additional value
4.5 Dimensions for Value Configuration
Strategic value positioning in the sharing economy
goes beyond the strategic product positioning in the
old economy of classic strategic framework by Porter
[13] in which products are owned by a firm. In the
sharing economy, real products and services might be
owned by diverse actors. We even have not only B2C
or B2B relations but C2B2B relations in the sharing
economy when providers of the goods are private
‘customers’. These set several possibilities for
standardizing or individualizing the content and for
controlling and coordination of actors that have
diverse, social-emotional targets besides economic
ones. Still the focal firm of the integrated value
network needs to position itself to other firms or
integrated value networks or might develop different
value propositions using different ownership models
or strategic positioning. We argue that the sharing
economy provides several possibilities for positioning
their business model. We assume that core specific
dimensions for positioning relate to the content and the
completeness of property rights in the sharing
economy business model.
Standardization vs. Individualization. Our cases
show that shared goods can be highly standardized as
it is e.g. the case for the offerings of Car2Go. Special
standardized models that are developed around a set of
solutions define the portfolio of offerings. Users
follow standardized expectations which determine
their perception of utility. Using shared cars is
characterized by the user’s low emotional
involvement. Users do not aim to own the car and are
not interested in individualizing it. In contrast to that,
shared goods can be very individualized allowing for
a special emotional experience with the goods. Airbnb,
for example, provides very individualized
accommodation. The specific interior or the social
relations with the provider of the accommodation can
provide special and even unique experiences. This
individualized experience is one key selling argument
for the solution. To allow greater individualization, the
focal sharing economy firm – in this case Airbnb – has
to provide various selection criteria for a goal-oriented
choice. The unstandardized solution also demands
more trust building and providing access to feedback
from users. Thus, sharing economy firms that offer
unstandardized goods such as Airbnb require a more
detailed and complicated information technology.
Completeness of property rights. Business models
in integrated networks cover the question who
performs which activities [34] - a question that touches
the governance aspect. Naturally, some activities have
to be performed by the focal firm, but other activities
are carried out by network partners or by the consumer
as a co-producer of value. Our cases show that the
governance structure goes beyond the mere question
who does what. It also covers questions of property
rights and control aspects that influence who in the
network is able to use, change as well as capture and
guard value from the goods. Using, organizing,
controlling, controlling, and designing the sharing of
real goods, the completeness of property rights calls
for attention. The focal firm may own the physical
goods or diverse individual owners might share them.
Even when not owning the good fully, focal firms can
through property rights (e.g. stated through contracts)
be able to define and control the design and shape of
the goods. This completeness has major implications
about how goods are maintained, organized and how
they look like and function. Completeness of property
rights has effects on long time use and interests.
Incomplete property rights of focal firms and
particularized ownership of the goods increase the
possibly that private owners might share goods, but
will not be interested in the economic returns only, but
also in socio-emotional issues and have not only
rational evaluations of spoils from misuse.
Furthermore, private owners might care about social-
emotional conflicts with users that affect their
willingness to share their property and interact with
users. We see in our cases that ownership is a key
dimension of the strategic value positioning in the
sharing economy. At the extreme, a focal firm fully
owns the goods respectively has complete property
rights of the goods allowing for maximal rigor of
influence. In this case, the firm does not need to
consider the interest of other owners when
coordinating and designing goods. At the other
extreme, the focal firm may only be a facilitator of the
shared goods. In this case, other influence factors such
as specific business logics and socio-emotional
interests of private persons need consideration. Thus,
a particularized ownership with incomplete property
rights of the focal firm demands different coordination
and control. Thus, a firm in the sharing economy
demands more complicated interaction systems and
governance solutions to deal with multiple motives
and multi-ownership. The focal firm needs to integrate
them into their constituting technology.
Figure 1. Dimensions for value configuration
The positioning of a sharing economy firm thus
follows a two dimensional framework along the
dimensions completeness of property rights and
individualization vs. standardization of content. Figure
1 gives an overview over the positioning of our case
firms in this framework.
Car rentals like Europcar, Sixt, or Enterprise
completely own the property rights of their standard
products, and allow customers to use vehicles for a fee.
Individualization is only possible in terms of renting
additional services or cars with predefined features.
LendingClub organizes a peer-to-peer network that
allows members granting and obtaining loans. This
illustrates an integrated value network where
individuals (high particularism) own and give
temporal property rights for a highly standardized
content (money). Similarly, Fon organizes a great
amount of individuals that participate in sharing the
standardized content ‘access to wifi’ among members
the members of network who retain the property rights
over their wifi access (high particularism). Airbnb
serves as perfect example for integrated value
networks where individuals contribute their
individualized content to network without transferring
property rights. Airbnb provides a constituting
technology that allows members of the network to
initiate contacts, do business, and to secure
transactions. Thus, Airbnb achieves a position where
highly individualized content of a huge variety of
users is integrated into a network that creates values.
Zaarly and TaskRabbit also strive to achieve such a
position. They provide networks where individuals
may offer or demand any kind of services and goods
for or from other members. Zaarly and Task-Rabbit do
not gain property rights over the services, they provide
the technology to organize the networks. Car sharing
providers like BMW’s DriveNow or Daimler’s
Car2Go offer their own products. This allows the
providers to retain property rights at the cost of
individualization. Car sharing platform providers like
Turo or Greenwheels waive property rights, and
achieve higher levels of Individualization. Flinkster
belongs to the German railway company Deutsche
Bahn, offers a variety of cars from all major producers,
and holds the property rights over all goods and
services. Thus, Flinkster offers a mobility concept that
comprises train rides and different cars that meet
individual demands. A special case between car
sharing platform providers and company bound car
sharing is Getaround. Getaround offers a network for
car sharing and like Turo or Greenwheels. However,
network members who want to offer their vehicles
have to install a special corporate software and pay
monthly fees for it. Thereby, Getaround achieves at
least a partial property right over the cars offered in the
network. On the one hand, this software is part of the
larger constituting technology that enables
transactions in the activity system of Getaround. On
the other hand, this software might also be part of their
concept to capture value.
5. Discussion and Conclusion
The sharing economy has taken up speed and is
spreading into B2C and B2B markets. Traditional
strategic management cannot explain how value is
created in the sharing economy. The sharing economy
demands a new value creating perspective of (IT)-
technology. Long-linked and intensive technologies
Completeness of property rights
Individualization of content
Standardizatio n Individualization
Centralism Particularism
Hapimag
HILTI
Airbnb
UBER
SIXT
Car2Go
DriveNow
Flinkster
Green-
wheels
Get-
around
Europe-
car
Turo
Task-
Rabbit
Zaarly
Lending-
Club
Fon
Enterprise
My-
Hammer
serve to create a basic offer, mediating technologies
enhance internet access, but the sharing economy
requires more for the control, organization, and
distribution of physical goods over platforms:
integrated networks’ technologies serve to organize
the networks of the involved parties and builds a
fundament for value creation and capture in the
sharing economy which still require the combination
of different activities from the technologies and other
activities that design the business model. Thus, web
technology becomes a constituting technology.
Therefore, we develop novel form of value
configuration for the sharing economy moving beyond
the three forms of Stabell [15] and by integrating the
business model approach [30, 36]. Inspired from
previous research and case examples we develop a
model of the integrated value network. The integrated
network requires web-based information technology
that constitutes and links activities in a business model
which connects the virtual and the real world. New
ideas of content may base upon linkages of activities
among multiple partners including customers, some of
them performing services or goods in the real world.
Case examples show that integrated networks may
position their value creation on two dimensions that
help positioning of the network: Standardization vs.
Individualization of the content and particularism or
centralization of ownership of the shared good causing
different systems for governance including socio-
emotional interest of the providers. These novel two
dimensions refer to the governance of business models
that has strong relations to the ownership of real goods
and the possibilities to shape design and as such
novelty, maintenance, and positioning of the physical
good, and or efficiency by more or less individualized
solutions. Future integrated value networks,
respectively focal firms create business models and
platforms within these dimensions. More
individualized content as well higher particularism of
ownership require more complex systems for
interactions and thus sets greater demands on the core
technology, the IT.
We extend current research [3, 5, 8] and emphasize
that actual examples of the sharing economy are cases
of business model innovation and demand established
firms to rethink their way of doing business. Further,
our line of reasoning is supported by research that
considers IT among the strongest drivers of innovation
[5, 44]. We predict an even more dominant role for
innovation through the combination of the sharing
economy with artificial intelligence and virtual reality.
We assume that this nexus will increasingly trigger
R&D processes and very novel forms of sharing, co-
development, and co-production within real worlds
and virtual worlds. Nonetheless, firms entering new
business models in the sharing economy might
unwittingly or deliberately cause a creative destruction
of their own business models [5]. Previous examples
show that especially young firms – entrants – have
been successful in the sharing economy, while
incumbents struggle to create value and have focused
to acquire entrants and their value creation model [45].
Our paper uses theoretic considerations and case-
examples. One limitation is not having large sample
data to test our model. We also do not show relations
to firm performance. Future studies might use large
sample or archival data for further developments and
testing. Future research might also dig into the
question what firms can develop success in the short
run in their integrated networks and what conditions
might help them in achieving a sustained success. This
could possibly require greater constant changes to
their business model
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... . - (Frey et al., 2017;Kumar et al., 2017;Reuschl et al., 2017) (Camilleri and Neuhofer, 2017;Dreyer et al., 2017;Festila and Müller, 2017;Frey et al., 2017;Johnson and Neuhofer, 2017;Kumar et al., 2017;Reuschl et al., 2017;Wiles and Crawford, 2017) (Catulli et al., 2017;Frey et al., 2017;Kumar et al., 2017;Reuschl et al., 2017) -Characteristic s / conceptualizat ions (Acquier et al., 2017;Andersson et al., 2013;Annarelli et al., 2016;Banning, 2016;Bardhi and Eckhardt, 2012;Belk, 2014aBelk, , 2014bBenoit et al., 2017;Chasin and Scholta, 2015;Cheng, 2016;Cockayne, 2016;Corciolani and Dalli, 2014;Dose and Walsh, 2015;Eckhardt and Bardhi, 2016;Ertz et al., 2016;Frenken and Schor, 2017;Gregory and Halff, 2017;Gruszka, 2017;Heylighen, 2017;Huber, 2017;Ivanova, 2017;Jenkins et al., 2014;Laamanen et al., 2015;Laurell and Sandström, 2017;Mair and Reischauer, 2017;Martin, 2016;Murillo et al., 2017;Nica and Potcovaru, 2015;Park and Armstrong, 2017;Polacco, 2016;Puschmann and Alt, 2016;Richardson, 2015;Scaraboto, 2015;Schor, 2016) (Forgacs and Dimanche, 2016;Huefner, 2015;Kathan et al., 2016;Nishino et al., 2017;Plenter, 2017) ----- (Heo, 2016;Weber, 2015) ( Aznar et al., 2017;Fang et al., 2015;Gutiérrez et al., 2017;Heo, 2016;Horn and Merante, 2017;Laurell and Sandström, 2016;Mody et al., 2017;Richard and Cleveland, 2016;Salvioni, 2016;Tussyadiah and Pesonen, 2016;Williams and Horodnic, 2017;Zervas et al., 2016Zervas et al., , 2017) (Bellos et al., 2017) -Impact (societal) (Plenter, 2017) ------ (Greenwood and Wattal, 2017;Li et al., 2016Li et al., , 2017 -- - (Cervero et al., 2007;Martin and Shaheen, 2011;Retamal, 2017;Zamani et al., 2017) Law and regulation (McKee, 2017) ----- (Berke, 2016;Katz, 2015) (Acevedo, 2016;Berke, 2016;Biber et al., 2017;Blevins, 2017;Elliott, 2016;Hong and Lee, 2017;Katz, 2015;Lobel, 2016;Loewenstein, 2017;Major, 2016;Miller, 2016;Munkøe, 2017;Pfeffer-Gillett, 2016;Posen, 2015;Redfearn III, 2016;Sprague, 2015;Stafford, 2016;Todolí-Signes, 2017;Zale, 2016) --Community conduct (Watkins et al., 2016) (Godelnik , 2017) (Godelnik, 2017;Schor et al., 2016;Schor and Fitzmaurice, 2017) - (Godelnik, 2017;Pera et al., 2016) (Godelnik , 2017;Schor et al., 2016) -- (Gruen, 2017) - ...
... . - (Frey et al., 2017;Kumar et al., 2017;Reuschl et al., 2017) (Camilleri and Neuhofer, 2017;Dreyer et al., 2017;Festila and Müller, 2017;Frey et al., 2017;Johnson and Neuhofer, 2017;Kumar et al., 2017;Reuschl et al., 2017;Wiles and Crawford, 2017) (Catulli et al., 2017;Frey et al., 2017;Kumar et al., 2017;Reuschl et al., 2017) -Characteristic s / conceptualizat ions (Acquier et al., 2017;Andersson et al., 2013;Annarelli et al., 2016;Banning, 2016;Bardhi and Eckhardt, 2012;Belk, 2014aBelk, , 2014bBenoit et al., 2017;Chasin and Scholta, 2015;Cheng, 2016;Cockayne, 2016;Corciolani and Dalli, 2014;Dose and Walsh, 2015;Eckhardt and Bardhi, 2016;Ertz et al., 2016;Frenken and Schor, 2017;Gregory and Halff, 2017;Gruszka, 2017;Heylighen, 2017;Huber, 2017;Ivanova, 2017;Jenkins et al., 2014;Laamanen et al., 2015;Laurell and Sandström, 2017;Mair and Reischauer, 2017;Martin, 2016;Murillo et al., 2017;Nica and Potcovaru, 2015;Park and Armstrong, 2017;Polacco, 2016;Puschmann and Alt, 2016;Richardson, 2015;Scaraboto, 2015;Schor, 2016) (Forgacs and Dimanche, 2016;Huefner, 2015;Kathan et al., 2016;Nishino et al., 2017;Plenter, 2017) ----- (Heo, 2016;Weber, 2015) ( Aznar et al., 2017;Fang et al., 2015;Gutiérrez et al., 2017;Heo, 2016;Horn and Merante, 2017;Laurell and Sandström, 2016;Mody et al., 2017;Richard and Cleveland, 2016;Salvioni, 2016;Tussyadiah and Pesonen, 2016;Williams and Horodnic, 2017;Zervas et al., 2016Zervas et al., , 2017) (Bellos et al., 2017) -Impact (societal) (Plenter, 2017) ------ (Greenwood and Wattal, 2017;Li et al., 2016Li et al., , 2017 -- - (Cervero et al., 2007;Martin and Shaheen, 2011;Retamal, 2017;Zamani et al., 2017) Law and regulation (McKee, 2017) ----- (Berke, 2016;Katz, 2015) (Acevedo, 2016;Berke, 2016;Biber et al., 2017;Blevins, 2017;Elliott, 2016;Hong and Lee, 2017;Katz, 2015;Lobel, 2016;Loewenstein, 2017;Major, 2016;Miller, 2016;Munkøe, 2017;Pfeffer-Gillett, 2016;Posen, 2015;Redfearn III, 2016;Sprague, 2015;Stafford, 2016;Todolí-Signes, 2017;Zale, 2016) --Community conduct (Watkins et al., 2016) (Godelnik , 2017) (Godelnik, 2017;Schor et al., 2016;Schor and Fitzmaurice, 2017) - (Godelnik, 2017;Pera et al., 2016) (Godelnik , 2017;Schor et al., 2016) -- (Gruen, 2017) - ...
... . - (Frey et al., 2017;Kumar et al., 2017;Reuschl et al., 2017) (Camilleri and Neuhofer, 2017;Dreyer et al., 2017;Festila and Müller, 2017;Frey et al., 2017;Johnson and Neuhofer, 2017;Kumar et al., 2017;Reuschl et al., 2017;Wiles and Crawford, 2017) (Catulli et al., 2017;Frey et al., 2017;Kumar et al., 2017;Reuschl et al., 2017) -Characteristic s / conceptualizat ions (Acquier et al., 2017;Andersson et al., 2013;Annarelli et al., 2016;Banning, 2016;Bardhi and Eckhardt, 2012;Belk, 2014aBelk, , 2014bBenoit et al., 2017;Chasin and Scholta, 2015;Cheng, 2016;Cockayne, 2016;Corciolani and Dalli, 2014;Dose and Walsh, 2015;Eckhardt and Bardhi, 2016;Ertz et al., 2016;Frenken and Schor, 2017;Gregory and Halff, 2017;Gruszka, 2017;Heylighen, 2017;Huber, 2017;Ivanova, 2017;Jenkins et al., 2014;Laamanen et al., 2015;Laurell and Sandström, 2017;Mair and Reischauer, 2017;Martin, 2016;Murillo et al., 2017;Nica and Potcovaru, 2015;Park and Armstrong, 2017;Polacco, 2016;Puschmann and Alt, 2016;Richardson, 2015;Scaraboto, 2015;Schor, 2016) (Forgacs and Dimanche, 2016;Huefner, 2015;Kathan et al., 2016;Nishino et al., 2017;Plenter, 2017) ----- (Heo, 2016;Weber, 2015) ( Aznar et al., 2017;Fang et al., 2015;Gutiérrez et al., 2017;Heo, 2016;Horn and Merante, 2017;Laurell and Sandström, 2016;Mody et al., 2017;Richard and Cleveland, 2016;Salvioni, 2016;Tussyadiah and Pesonen, 2016;Williams and Horodnic, 2017;Zervas et al., 2016Zervas et al., , 2017) (Bellos et al., 2017) -Impact (societal) (Plenter, 2017) ------ (Greenwood and Wattal, 2017;Li et al., 2016Li et al., , 2017 -- - (Cervero et al., 2007;Martin and Shaheen, 2011;Retamal, 2017;Zamani et al., 2017) Law and regulation (McKee, 2017) ----- (Berke, 2016;Katz, 2015) (Acevedo, 2016;Berke, 2016;Biber et al., 2017;Blevins, 2017;Elliott, 2016;Hong and Lee, 2017;Katz, 2015;Lobel, 2016;Loewenstein, 2017;Major, 2016;Miller, 2016;Munkøe, 2017;Pfeffer-Gillett, 2016;Posen, 2015;Redfearn III, 2016;Sprague, 2015;Stafford, 2016;Todolí-Signes, 2017;Zale, 2016) --Community conduct (Watkins et al., 2016) (Godelnik , 2017) (Godelnik, 2017;Schor et al., 2016;Schor and Fitzmaurice, 2017) - (Godelnik, 2017;Pera et al., 2016) (Godelnik , 2017;Schor et al., 2016) -- (Gruen, 2017) - ...
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