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New Puppets in the Old School: The Applicability of Traditional Internationalisation Theories in the Sharing Economy


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Sharing Economy platforms have expanded their operations all around the globe at an unexpected rate. Due to its “asset-lite” nature, traditional internationalisation theories may not be able to fully explain or predict their expansion patterns. This lack of theoretical background puts at risk the phenomenon’s future and stops traditional companies from coming up with a solid plan to compete against platforms. To ease the creation of a Sharing Economy internationalisation paradigm, this paper intends to review the existing research regarding the internationalisation of sharing platforms as well as the applicability of existing theories. Through a systematic literature review, the existing research was reviewed, and afterwards, internationalisation theories and their distinct factors extracted were noted to address the applicability of these within the singularities of the sharing phenomenon. This classification of factors was done according to the exiting literature in the field. After this research, we can confirm the lack of explanatory power of traditional theories regarding sharing platforms and confirm the insufficient research regarding these operations. We propose a list of factors that should be considered for future research as a guideline for the further development of the Sharing Economy internationalisation theory. Additionally, the factors classification is tested upon the case of the internationalisation of Blablacar, the most extensive carpooling network operating, to check if the theoretical and the practical approaches converge.
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New Puppets in the Old School: The Applicability of
Traditional Internationalisation Theories in the
Sharing Economy
Cristina Pérez-Pérez * , Diana Benito-Osorio and Susana María García-Moreno
Citation: Pérez-Pérez, Cristina,
Diana Benito-Osorio, and Susana
María García-Moreno. 2021. New
Puppets in the Old School: The
Applicability of Traditional
Internationalisation Theories in the
Sharing Economy. Administrative
Sciences 11: 98.
Received: 29 July 2021
Accepted: 4 September 2021
Published: 9 September 2021
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Business Administration (ADO), Applied Economics II and Foundations of Economic Analysis, Universidad Rey
Juan Carlos, Paseo de los Artilleros s/n, 28032 Madrid, Spain; (D.B.-O.); (S.M.G.-M.)
Sharing Economy platforms have expanded their operations all around the globe at an
unexpected rate. Due to its “asset-lite” nature, traditional internationalisation theories may not be
able to fully explain or predict their expansion patterns. This lack of theoretical background puts at
risk the phenomenon’s future and stops traditional companies from coming up with a solid plan to
compete against platforms. To ease the creation of a Sharing Economy internationalisation paradigm,
this paper intends to review the existing research regarding the internationalisation of sharing
platforms as well as the applicability of existing theories. Through a systematic literature review, the
existing research was reviewed, and afterwards, internationalisation theories and their distinct factors
extracted were noted to address the applicability of these within the singularities of the sharing
phenomenon. This classification of factors was done according to the exiting literature in the field.
After this research, we can confirm the lack of explanatory power of traditional theories regarding
sharing platforms and confirm the insufficient research regarding these operations. We propose a list
of factors that should be considered for future research as a guideline for the further development of
the Sharing Economy internationalisation theory. Additionally, the factors classification is tested upon
the case of the internationalisation of Blablacar, the most extensive carpooling network operating, to
check if the theoretical and the practical approaches converge.
sharing economy; platforms; internationalisation; internationalisation theories; new
theory; growth methods; expansion; conceptualization; Blablacar
1. Introduction
The platform business model has grown both in size and scale dramatically over
the last decade, and has contributed to driving up productivity in multiple ways (Evans
and Gawer 2016), proving not to be fragile or a temporary notion (Fan et al. 2019). This
system has been celebrated by consumers and investors (Wirtz et al. 2019) by achieving
an unprecedented rate of global success (Parente et al. 2018), despite not having a clear
definition (Botsman 2013;Frenken and Schor 2017;Sundararajan 2014). Instead of focusing
on developing and commercializing products, this model concentrates its efforts on creating
an efficient and convenient virtual marketplace that connects users and allows them to
match accordingly to time, place, and individual preferences (Parente et al. 2018).
With an expected market value of $335 billion by 2025 (Statista 2020) and millions of
direct and indirect employees, platforms have become a significant economic force and
a global phenomenon (Evans and Gawer 2016). To maximise the payoffs, SE platforms
have expanded quickly to other countries, in some cases without taking enough time to
evaluate how to adapt their methods and strategies, resulting in mixed results from these
internationalisation processes (Kozlenkova et al. 2021). This international expansion has
attracted a great deal of attention, but most questions related to these processes still need
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98.
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 2 of 23
to be addressed by the literature (Kozlenkova et al. 2021;Parente et al. 2018). Although, in
general, the SE is a recent concept, the academic interest in this area is continuously growing
(Sassanelli et al. 2019), boosted by the request for answers by traditional companies and the
society in general, which are concerned about the legality and fairness of this competitive
model (Dunne 2017) and their long-term impact on communities all around the world
(Marchi and Parekh 2016).
According to Marano et al. (2020), SE platforms seem to be less challenged by
internationalisation-related challenges than traditional companies, and, at the same time,
platforms have been said to be able to formulate novel ways of international expansion
(Nambisan et al. 2019)
, extricating themselves from existent paradigms. Although, assess-
ing the size of the sharing sector is difficult (Schor and Vallas 2021). In a survey carried
out by the Center for a New American Dream (2014), between 10% and 14% of Ameri-
cans had participated in a sharing exchange. Regarding Europe, and according to ING
Bank’s (2015) study, around a third of Europeans consumers have heard of the sharing
economy, and around 5% have declared to participate actively on it during the previous
year. This same study anticipated the growth that was about to come within the coming
years, which was mainly driven by technological innovations, cultural practices, the eco-
nomic conditions, and the Great Recession, together with the discourses of SE founders
and designers
(Schor and Vallas 2021)
. By enacting a new way of work, which offers a
more flexible and personalise schedule (Sundararajan 2016), lower entry barriers and a
more inclusive environment for people from all types of backgrounds (Zanoni 2019) the
SE has expanded all over the world at an unprecedent rate, challenging both, traditional
companies, and scholars.
By taking into consideration this information, the main objective of this paper is to
review the most prominent international theories, and point out how they can be used
to explain the internationalisation processes of SE platforms and where they fail to do
so. With this paper, we aim to understand the applicability of traditional theories in the
SE and open new research paths to formulate a new custom-made theory that takes into
consideration the SE specificities. Therefore, during this research, the following research
questions will be addressed:
RQ1: Are existent internationalisation theories able to explain the foreign expansion
processes of SE platforms?
RQ2: How can the SE specific characteristics interfere in the applicability of interna-
tionalisation theories?
This study is the first attempt to analyse the applicability of the factors derived from
the main internationalisation theories and comes justified by several reasons. First, it
presents an overview of the current internationalisation theories and their key factors.
Second, by analysing the SE in this context, the relevance of each factor can be evaluated
under the perspective of this model, which will allow sifting among those factors which
can be useful when explaining internationalisation processes and those which are not. This
sieving will confirm if any of the actual theories is fully applicable to this model, and in the
opposite case, which factors should be considered when analysing the expansion processes.
Finally, by bridging the disconnect between the SE model and the internationalisation
theories, we aim to provide a foundation for future research regarding these processes and
stimulate this discussion.
To shed light on this theoretical question, the case of Blablacar’s internationalisation
process was analysed under this new perspective. This platform is the world’s leading
long-distance carpooling platform, with a community of 80 million drivers, passengers in
22 countries and 600 employees (Mogavero 2020). It contributes to bringing people closer
and creating a unique space and has double the occupancy rate of cars, contributing to
carbon-saving. Moreover, this platform, among other examples as Lift or Ola, has changed
the old-fashioned mobility systems worldwide (Wirtz et al. 2019) without owning any
vehicles (Mogavero 2020).
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 3 of 23
To reach the objectives set, first, both topics are reviewed, and the relationship between
them and their most important aspects exposed. Afterwards, these two elements will be
combined and analysed in deep to distort the factors according to their applicability. These
results will be applied to the case of Blablacar’s internationalisation process. Finally, the
discussion and the conclusion section will be addressed, going through the principal results,
and showing the way for the further advancement of the field.
2. Literature Review
With the rise of information technology in the late 20th century, the spread of personal
computers, mobile communication and location-based services, the global consumption
scheme is changing (Kim and Suh 2021). Furthermore, factors such as the abundance of
idle capacity, the growing awareness regarding sustainability, and the economic recession,
which implies higher unemployment rates, have constituted the perfect environment for the
EC to flourish (Cheng 2016;Kathan et al. 2016). This system offers more convenient access
and the possibility of gaining profits from underutilised assets (Cheng 2016;Kathan et al.
2016;Parente et al. 2018), and returns, in some way, to the consumption method followed
in the pre-industrial era, when people lived in smaller communities and used to share their
limited resources thanks to mutual trust and previous experience (Hawksworth 2014).
This phenomenon has been named as: “Collaborative Economy”, “Access economy”,
“Collaborative consumption” or “Sharing Economy”, with this last name being the most
widely used. Although there is still no agreement on defining this model (Botsman 2013;
Frenken and Schor 2017;Lamberton and Rose 2012), it has some characteristics widely
agreed among scholars. These include aspects, such as the critical role played by digital
platforms (Möhlmann 2015;Munkøe 2017;Stokes et al. 2014;Tussyadiah 2016) or the
reputation systems incorporated within them (Allen and Berg 2014;Frenken 2017;Munkøe
2017). In addition, the elimination of idle capacity of goods (Allen and Berg 2014;Richard-
son 2015), the preference of access over ownership (Dredge and Gyimoothy 2015;Lindblom
et al. 2018;Perren and Grauerholz 2015), or the community of peers (Frenken 2017;Hamari
et al. 2016;Perren and Grauerholz 2015), that builds up around platforms (Alonso-Almeida
et al. 2020;Baumber et al. 2019;Kassan and Orsi 2012), are considered relevant as well.
Due to the lack of agreement when it comes to defining the phenomenon, different
classifications have arisen as well. For example, according to Schor (2016), platforms can
be classified depending on the platform orientation (for-profit/non-profit), and the type
of provider involved (peer-to-peer/business-to-peer). For Frenken et al. (2015), the SE
is compound by three elements: a costumer-to-costumer interaction, temporary access,
and a more efficient use of physical resources. If only two out of these three elements are
present, they no longer consider it SE, but another economic form of exchange, on demand
economy (customer-to-customer and access), second-hand economy (customer-to-customer
and goods), or product-service economy (access and goods). Oskam and Boswijk (2016)
divided value networks in four groups according to two dimensions. From this analysis,
open and not-for-profit systems were identified, as well as peer-to-peer market places based
on open systems, closed protected systems for the common good (called collectives) and
hyperconnected and distributed platforms with a commercial goal (network capitalists).
These different definitions and classifications lead to a very disorganised research field as
well as to difficulties with collecting and processing information to obtain empirical data,
which results in a lack of official statistics (Schor and Vallas 2021).
In general, it could be said that through this system, similarly to multi-sided market-
places or triadic business model (service enabler–service provider–customer), platforms
rely on information technologies to allow different agents to share their assets and to find a
substitute alternative to ownership (Parente et al. 2018). The success of this model relies
on the strength of this interaction (Kumar et al. 2018). In addition, this shift from bilateral
to multilateral relationships allows members to have varying and dynamic roles through
their time within the platform (Nambisan et al. 2019). The effects of the SE continues to
trigger an intense debate among scholars (de Streel and Larouche 2015), and traditional
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 4 of 23
industries are opening to newcomers which compete with existing companies through
different strategies and methods (Russo and Stasi 2016), challenging traditional ways of
doing business and changing the global organization of economic activities (Vitkovic 2016).
Due to the virtual nature of the platforms, users access them through web browsers
or mobile apps, which means that they can be used all around the world, allowing them
to be international “by default” (Shaheer and Li 2020). Although this opportunity is
presented, most platforms make deliberate foreign market entry decisions (Stallkamp and
Schotter 2019) expanding aggressively and not being conditioned by cultural or economic
discrepancies (Parente et al. 2018). However, these internationalisation decisions are often
made without much information, making platforms unsure of how to proceed (Coviello
et al. 2017), resulting in different degrees of success (Kozlenkova et al. 2021). This quick
international expansion has attracted a significant amount of attention (Parente et al. 2018),
but this is a topic still to be developed, which could have its foundations in traditional
business theories.
International business strategy has been an area of interest for many years, which
has contributed to the development of different theories aiming to explain the processes
undertaken by companies. Traditionally, these theories were focused on large multina-
tional corporations (Johanson and Vahlne 2009;Mtigwe 2006), but the focus recently has
been on the analysis of smaller companies, international new ventures, and born-global
companies, as they seem to internationalise faster and differently (Oviatt and McDougall
2005;Smith et al. 2012).
Although the internationalisation research field has increased over the last few decades,
literature dealing with the internationalisation of SE platforms is almost non-existent
(Parente et al. 2018;
Stallkamp and Schotter 2019). This is relevant because traditional
internationalisation-related challenges are less relevant for SE firms (Marano et al. 2020),
and, therefore, underlying reasons for internationalisation may be different. Due to their
nature, there is a need to formulate novel ways of international expansion models (Nam-
bisan et al. 2019), as although traditional theories could be considered, their theoretical
assumptions are significantly challenged by this new system (Parente et al. 2018).
From traditional international business literature, three main perspectives can be
found aiming to explain internationalisation processes (Table 1) (Akter et al. 2019;Anders-
son 2000;Burgel et al. 2001). These three domains identify how internationalisation has
been explained through previous theories, either by growth and expansion, or though
strategies and methods, therefore considering an internationalisation theory any paradigm
which study:
Table 1. Summary of the review of internationalisation theories.
Theories Key Assumptions Derived Factors Authors
Economic View of Internationalisation (Macro Level)
Product Life Cycle
The life cycle of the firm’s product
is linked to internationalisation
Nature of product
Stage in the life cycle Vernon (1966)
The Monopolistic
Advantage Theory
Highlights the role of the individual
firm as the main determinant of
international flows of goods and
Firm’s competitive advantage
Product’s superior value Hymer (1976)
Internalisation Theory Firms internationalise to reduce
Cost reduction
Opportunity to the
intermediate suppliers
Buckley and Casson (1976)
The Eclectic Theory of
Firms internationalise due to
ownership advantages, location
advantages, and
internationalisation advantages
Labour costs
Barrier to trade
Transport costs
Product’s heritage value
Dunning (1979)
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 5 of 23
Table 1. Cont.
Theories Key Assumptions Derived Factors Authors
Resource-Based View of Internationalisation (Firm Level)
Assumes that the international
resources of a firm influence the
internationalisation of small
Firm’s performance
Firm’s territorial location Barney (1991)
Foreign investment decisions are
heavily influenced by the unique
managerial competencies of
Managerial competencies
Management know-how Collis (1991)
Human Capital Theory
The ability to be an exporter may
not be solely related to the age or
size of the business, it is also related
to the human capital of an
Entrepreneur’s international
business skills
Entrepreneur’s international
Entrepreneur’s environmental
Entrepreneur’s management
Bates (1998); Gimeno et al.
(1997); Kalleberg and Leicht
(1991); Ruzzier et al. (2007);
Westhead (1995)
Behavioural View of Internationalisation
The Foreign Investment
Decision Process
Assumes that decisions regarding
foreign investment encompass a
behavioural process triggered by a
stimulus to invest.
Time and effort pressure Aharoni (1966)
Uppsala/Stage Model of
Firms gradually increase their
internationalisation operations in
different stages as they develop
knowledge, experience, and
relationships with international
Foreign market knowledge
Past experience
Relationships with foreign
Foreign language
Johanson and Vahlne (1977)
Ruzzier et al. (2007)
Johanson and Vahlne (2009)
Firms start involving in
international trade with those
countries having psychologically
distinct features. Export activities
vary for small firms depending on
the decision-makers of the firm.
The process of decision-making is
the key to the process of
Past or present experience
Exploration for market
Previous experience and
reputation, founders learning
and positive behaviour
Bilkey and Tesar (1977)
Czinkota (1982)
Reid (1981)
Network Theory of
Emphasise personal relationships as
the key factor to enter the
international market.
Personal networking
Johanson and Mattsson (1987)
Munro and Coviello (1995)
Laforet and Tann (2006)
The Evolutionary
Approach of
Internationalisation is dependent
on contingent on the nature of the
knowledge. The quality and nature
of knowledge developed by an
organization and its deployment
are dependent on the institutional
settings and social communities
where the firm is located.
Quality of knowledge Nelson and Winter (1973)
Kogut and Zander (1993)
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 6 of 23
Table 1. Cont.
Theories Key Assumptions Derived Factors Authors
Process Theory of
The internationalisation process of a
firm is initiated in a reactive mode
in response to unsolicited export
orders. Spontaneous international
orders provide entrepreneurs to
accumulate knowledge of
internationalisation and learn both
their organization’s capabilities as
well as international market needs.
International orders
Experience in international
Firm’s perception
Vernon (1966)
New Venture/Born
Global Firm’s Theory of
Early accumulation of experiential
knowledge facilitates early
internationalisation. Firms focus on
niche markets and global networks
and reoriented towards developing
mutually beneficial relationships
with international partners.
Experiential knowledge
Role of founder/entrepreneur
McDougall et al. (1994)
Oviatt and McDougall (2005)
Bell et al. (2003)
Li and Li (2007)
Strategic Choice Theory
Firms evaluate the risks in changing
market opportunities and respond
strategically to internationalisation
Knowledge, skills, experience Shuman and Seeger (1986)
Adaptive Choice Model
Internationalisation is an adaptive
response to other challenging
environments, imposed on
Declining local demand
Increase demand in foreign
Risk of adapting to change
Lam and White (1999)
Havnes and Senneseth (2001)
Source: Prepared by the authors after Akter et al. (2019).
Economic Perspective: The economic perspective, based on Smith (1776) and Ri-
cardo (1891) conceptualise internationalisation as an independent phenomenon for profit-
maximization, and places the firm’s distinctive advantage central to internationalisation
and conjectures rationally (Seifert 2010).
Resource-Based View Perspective: This theory, initially proposed by Penrose (1960),
and actualised several other times by authors like Wernerfelt (1984) and Barney (1991),
became the dominant paradigm in strategic planning (Barney et al. 2001) and later, an
influential approach in internationalisation research (Peng 2001). Through this theory, the
internationalisation of companies is explained as an adaptive response to environmental
complexity, with the aim of gaining a competitive advantage by organizing the resources,
skills, and routines (Teece et al. 1997).
Behavioural Perspective: Behavioural theories of internationalisation appeared as an
alternative to the economic view of internationalisation (Akter et al. 2019). The central
assumptions of behavioural theories of internationalisation are: (1) path dependency;
(2) goal complexity; (3) contextual contingency; and (4) weak rationality requirements
(Seifert 2010).
This perspective has provided a solid background for new perspectives on
understanding internationalisation.
3. Methodology
The qualitative research here has involved a systematic literature review (Grant and
Booth 2009;Petticrew and Roberts 2006;Tranfield et al. 2003) to investigate the previous
research analysing the relationship between the SE and the internationalisation of the
platforms. The main goal of this step is to check if there is any specific research that
analyses the internationalisation of SE platforms, and if so, what has been said about these
The search strategy was based on the bibliographic database Web of Science (WoS)
Core Collection, as it is the most widely accepted and frequently used database for the
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 7 of 23
analysis of scientific publications (Castillo-Vergara et al. 2018;Dzikowski 2018;Guerras-
Martín et al. 2020;Yang et al. 2013).
We identified the research area for the systematic review and studied the scope and
objectives, setting the SE as the central concept. Afterwards, we determined the inclusion
and exclusion criteria. All of the articles and reviews in the database containing the
keywords “sharing economy”, “collaborative economy”, or “platform economy” were
retrieved. This approach yielded a total of 2564 results. The sample was downloaded
and reviewed to remove duplicates and confirm their fit within the model. The authors
undertook this process manually, including 1898 papers in the final database. This search
was conducted in April 2021.
For this specific research, a subgroup of publications was analysed, selecting from the
previous sample those articles that relate the sharing economy with the internationalisation
processes, including those papers studying specific cases. Again, the documents were
individually reviewed by the authors to confirm their fit within the topic. In addition,
selected references from the articles identified were carefully screened for other relevant
After the initial query, the sample was personally revised by the authors to eliminate
non-related papers and possible duplicates. Once this step had been undertaken, the
remaining papers were analysed in depth. Several new articles were included because they
appeared in the bibliography of some of the selected papers and dealt with the topic in
question. Finally, nine papers were identified that studied the relationship between the SE
platform and internationalisation (Figure 1). These nine studies can be found in Table 2.
The next step was analysing which of the factors extracted from existing internation-
alisation theories can be used to explain the internationalisation process of SE platforms.
First, the internationalisation theories were examined, and their most representative factors
noted to study. Afterwards, these factors were individually addressed from a theoretical
point of view to analyse if, according to previous literature regarding the SE, its character-
istics and processes, each individual element could be used to explain the international
expansion activities of platforms. In order to address the applicability of the factors, and
due to the lack of literature regarding these specific processes, general literature regarding
the SE was used, relating the internationalisation factors extracted with the closest existent
literature. The reasoning behind the classification of each element is explained in detail
in Sections 4.14.3, and summarised in Table 3, where the factors, their suitability and
the literature supporting the classification are presented. After this process, the resulting
division of factors was tested on the case of the internationalisation process of Blablacar, to
check if the theory driven classification was true in a practice driven example.
Figure 1. Criteria for selecting papers.
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 8 of 23
Table 2. Final sample of papers regarding the internationalisation of sharing platforms.
Author(s)/Year Article Journal Main Conclusions
Kim and Suh (2021)
Spreading the sharing
economy: Institutional
conditions for the
international diffusion of
Uber, 2010–2017
- The SE has the potential to be a substitute
of traditional economic transactions.
- There are certain external environments
which allow the SE to flourish.
- The SE is not only an emergent industry,
but a whole set of social relationships
among the agents.
- Platforms are destined to compete with
conventional companies to expand their
Kozlenkova et al. (2021)
Sharing economy:
International marketing
Journal of
business studies
- The lack of a unify SE definition has
hindered the accurate understanding of the
expansion of platforms.
There are some key drivers that need more
research to explain the SE effectiveness
across countries.
- There is a complex pattern of global
contingencies that platforms need to
consider when entering international
Marano et al. (2020) The liability of disruption Global strategy
- Traditional internationalisation-related
challenges are less relevant for SE
platforms than traditional firms.
- The key platform’s features like their
“asset-lite” nature explain these differences.
- Institutional characteristics may play
against platforms, which are challenging
industry-specific expectations and rules.
Lehdonvirta et al. (2019)
Online Platform Providers in
the Sharing Economy:
Emergence of New Service
Journal of world
- The growth of the SE challenges domestic
and international economic structures and
- There is an incompatibility between
platforms and international trade regime.
Fan et al. (2019)
The influence of social
embeddedness on
organizational legitimacy and
the sustainability of the
globalization of the sharing
economic platform: Evidence
from Uber China
conservation and
- Platforms originated in developed
economies have “leadership” advantages
when entering emerging economies.
- Organizational legitimacy, in the
internationalisation contact, is both and
external and internal adaptation process.
- Localization success of international
platforms depend on different dimensions
of embeddedness and their interactions.
Nambisan et al. (2019)
Global platforms and
ecosystems: Implications for
international business theories
Journal of
Business Studies
- There is a need to develop new concepts
and related constructs to facilitate the
adoption of platforms lens in
internationalisation theories.
- New internationalisation models need to
be developed and validated that include
specific concepts regarding the SE
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 9 of 23
Table 2. Cont.
Author(s)/Year Article Journal Main Conclusions
Stallkamp and Schotter
Platforms without borders?
The international strategies of
digital platform firms
Global strategy
- Platforms wishing to internationalise need
to consider the scope of direct and indirect
network externalities.
- Network externalities influence the
international expansion of platforms.
Within-country and cross-country network
externalities affect internationalisation
Parente et al. (2018)
The sharing economy
globalization phenomenon: A
research agenda
Journal of
- The widespread adoption of platforms
across the world is one of the fastest and
largest internationalisation movement.
Previous IB literature provide only a partial
explanation of the behaviour of SE
- The ecosystem approach to SE
internationalisation should encompass
different IB perspectives.
- Platforms internationalisation relies on
their reach for multisided ecosystem
players’ engagement.
Anwar (2018)
Growing global in the sharing
economy: Lessons from Uber
and Airbnb
Global Business
- Platforms can take advantage of
first-mover opportunities when entering a
new country, as well as covering niche
- Brand management and distinctive
business models are key aspects for
- Consumer loyalty and the constant seek of
new opportunities are essential to the
platforms’ success.
Table 3. Derived factors from internationalisation theories and their role in the SE.
Derived Element Suitability for SE Authors
Nature of product 4Parente et al. (2018); Wirtz et al. (2019)
Stage in the life cycle 4Frenay (2018); Marano et al. (2020)
Firm’s competitive advantage 4
Chasin et al. (2018); Nambisan et al. (2019); Stallkamp and
Schotter (2019); Wirtz et al. (2019)
Product’s superior value 4
Kozlenkova et al. (2021); Rogers (2016); Wirtz et al. (2019)
Cost reduction X Wirtz et al. (2019)
Opportunity to be an intermediate supplier
XWirtz et al. (2019)
Labour costs X Anwar (2018); Frenay (2018); Parente et al. (2018); Wirtz
et al. (2019)
Barriers to trade 4Anwar (2018); Felländer et al. (2015); Kozlenkova et al.
Transport costs X Anwar (2018); Frenay (2018); Parente et al. (2018)
Product’s heritage value X Evans and Gawer (2016); Parente et al. (2018)
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 10 of 23
Table 3. Cont.
Derived Element Suitability for SE Authors
Firm’s performance X Kozlenkova et al. (2021); Ochieng and Takawira (2020)
Firm’s territorial location X Frenay (2018)
Entrepreneur/Manager characteristics Wirtz et al. (2019)
Time and effort pressure Felländer et al. (2015); Ochieng and Takawira (2020)
Foreign market knowledge Frenay (2018); Kozlenkova et al. (2021); Ochieng and
Takawira (2020)
Past experience Kozlenkova et al. (2021); Ochieng and Takawira (2020)
Relationship with foreign partners Mogavero (2020); Ochieng and Takawira (2020); Parente
et al. (2018); Wirtz et al. (2019)
Foreign language Marano et al. (2020); Mascareñas Pérez (2011); Stallkamp
and Schotter (2019)
Exploration for market knowledge X Kozlenkova et al. (2021); Ochieng and Takawira (2020)
Quality of knowledge X Ochieng and Takawira (2020)
International orders X Anwar (2018)
Experience in international transactions Ochieng and Takawira (2020)
Firm’s perception X Marano et al. (2020); Nambisan et al. (2019)
Experiential knowledge X Kozlenkova et al. (2021)
Vision Anwar (2018)
Declining local demand X Liu and Chen (2020); Razeghian and Weber (2019)
Increase demand in foreign markets 4Anwar (2018); Evans and Gawer (2016); Frenay (2018)
4. Results from the Applicability of Selected Factors from Internationalisation
Theories within the Sharing Model
The first step of the process was searching for papers analysing the internationalisation
of the SE. Table 2presents the final sample of documents obtained after applying the
different criteria stablished.
After corroborating the statement about the scarcity of research regarding the interna-
tionalisation processes, selected theories were tested upon the sharing model. Table 3shows
a list of derived factors from internationalisation theories (included in the last column of
Table 1) and their expected suitability to explain the internationalisation expansion of SE
platforms according to previous literature of the field. Some of these factors were grouped
with other similar ones. In order to make this classification, and due to the small amount
of specific literature regarding the internationalisation processes, general literature about
the SE field was used. Therefore, previous literature was checked to analyse how each
specific element would interact the SE characteristics and attributes, and therefore infer if,
at the time of international expansion, that element would be relevant when explaining the
methods and decision behind the operation.
4.1. Non-Influential Factors
The main goal of platforms is to provide a common land for users, therefore, platforms
do not undertake any production activity nor generate costs further than those which arise
from the platform maintenance and responsible for this. By being “asset-lite” (Parente et al.
2018) and relying upon their users’ goods to provide their service, platforms do not benefit
from any cost reduction by operating in one or another location, neither general labour
nor transport costs (Anwar 2018;Frenay 2018;Parente et al. 2018;Wirtz et al. 2019). This
implies that the search for lower production costs is not as influential for sharing platforms
as it is for traditional companies.
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 11 of 23
By acting as an intermediary between users, platforms do not have suppliers, so
they cannot be influenced by the chance of being an intermediate supplier. According
to Wirtz et al. (2019), platforms have disintermediated industries by facilitating people
to transact directly with one another in unprecedented ways (Caldieraro et al. 2018). As
platforms do not focus on developing or commercializing products, but in creating an
efficient marketplace to connect users (Parente et al. 2018), the product’s heritage value
cannot influence the internationalisation decision.
The relationship between firm performance and internationalisation does not seem
relevant, as platforms usually do not wait to have a solid performance in the home country
before moving to others (Kozlenkova et al. 2021;Ochieng and Takawira 2020). Due to their
specific characteristics, platforms will be influenced to a lesser extent by risks (Brouthers
et al. 2016) than traditional companies. This lack of relevant risks could be a critical factor
in the accelerated internationalisation process, as they can start operating internationally
before any company following a traditional business model could (Parente et al. 2018).
This lack of risks and the flexibility inherent to the model (Nambisan et al. 2019) places
the firm’s territorial location as a less relevant factor when making the internationalisation
decision. Digital businesses have implied the “death of distance” (Cairncross 2001) due
to its ease when expanding through the use of the internet and technologies. Hence, the
territorial location is not an inhibiting factor anymore.
The exponential growth of the SE (Frenay 2018) supposes that this model is known
and present almost anywhere, so platforms can, at least, foresee the success opportunities of
their business in different locations. This fact can be considered advantageous as platforms
do not need to adventure in new countries to explore and increase their market knowledge.
From the begging, platforms can know the market conditions or have easy access to
locals who can provide with knowledge (Ochieng and Takawira 2020), which influences
speeding up internationalisation processes (Kozlenkova et al. 2021) and the establishment
in said location. By being able to access local knowledge, the information or experience
accumulated by platforms before the establishment in new countries is not much. However,
this factor does not hinder their expansion intentions. Regarding this factor, older platforms
could have a slight advantage over younger competitors (Anwar 2018).
The SE has proved that it is neither a tendency nor a temporal phenomenon (Fan
et al. 2019). Although its popularity has increased over the years and it is possible to
find platforms almost anywhere, internationalisation decisions are not based on demands
of potential users in other locations or client chasing strategies. Instead of basing their
decisions on international orders, platforms seek opportunities to broaden their business
portfolio (Anwar 2018). As previously indicated, the risks assumed by platforms are,
theoretically, smaller than those assumed by traditional companies, so the risk perception is
lower as well (Nambisan et al. 2019). The “asset-light” condition of these platforms reduces
the size of the investment needed to enter new markets, allowing a rapid expansion and
limiting asset exposure (Marano et al. 2020). Due to the novelty of the SE field, and although
the industry is in different life stages depending on the country to be analysed, neither of
them can be considered to be in a mature or declining stage, so the main reason behind the
internationalisation of platforms is not a decline in the local demand, but the opportunity
to keep growing in potentially successful locations (Liu and Chen 2020;Razeghian and
Weber 2019).
Finally, platforms businesses are more flexible than traditional businesses. This char-
acteristic allows them to adapt quickly to changes (Wirtz et al. 2019), therefore not being so
much influenced by other competitors’ decisions. Although there is an increasing number
of multi-country platforms (Kim and Suh 2021), there is still a significant proportion of
non-internationalise equally successful ones, so, therefore, it cannot be said that platforms
are internationalizing because of an adaptive response to challenging environments, but
rather are deciding on their own when, where, and under which conditions they want to
internationalise (Parente et al. 2018).
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 12 of 23
4.2. Influential Factors
Due to the nature of the operation carried out through SE platforms (Parente et al.
2018;Wirtz et al. 2019) the internationalisation is fundamentally different from traditional
companies, mainly in terms of speed, scope and territorial expansion (Frenay 2018;Marano
et al. 2020). Instead of offering any product or service, these platforms aim to create a shared
virtual space to connect people with similar needs (Alonso-Almeida et al. 2020;Hamari
et al. 2016;Stokes et al. 2014). This mainly digital nature allows platforms to expand their
operations within territorial spaces almost from creation (Shaheer and Li 2020).
As commented previously, the novelty of the SE places it in the first stages of its
lifecycle, although it can vary among these first stages depending on the territorial location.
This growth has led platforms to invade markets (Frenay 2018) and enjoy rapid global
growth opportunities (Marano et al. 2020). This rapid growth has been influenced by the
platform’s characteristics and its way of achieving competitive advantages. According to
Chasin et al. (2018), these competitive advantages depend on having a big community
of users, both on the supply and the demand side, and therefore create interconnections
among partners (Nambisan et al. 2019). The more local users that both sides of the network
have, the more attractive it will be for new users (Stallkamp and Schotter 2019). Since
sharing platforms do not possess any other source of competitive advantage, as difficult to
imitate assets (Parente et al. 2018), this generation of a network of users is a critical factor
for their internationalisation. In the same way, platforms generate value by leveraging the
resources and users of communities, lowering transaction costs and fostering trust and
ecosystem governance (Wirtz et al. 2019). According to Rogers (2016), these platforms
deliver value differently from traditional businesses, achieving a differentiation degree that
translates into a higher perceived value by users (Kozlenkova et al. 2021).
The growth experienced by platforms has, on some occasions, has been hindered by
different barriers, as legal and regulatory problems (Dunne 2017;Vitkovic 2016). These
laws can affect platforms and the experience of users (Kozlenkova et al. 2021) as they can
see their experience modified due to these limitations. In addition to the legal barriers
and the reaction from local competitors (Felländer et al. 2015), platforms need to take
into consideration other kinds of barriers as trust, sustainability and societal issues or
institutional concerns (Anwar 2018;Kozlenkova et al. 2021;Marano et al. 2020). Regarding
this last aspect, factors related to the local institutional conditions affect the platforms’
internationalisation decisions (Tsukanova 2019). According to Uzunca et al. (2018), coun-
tries with lower levels of institutionalization may be more accessible for platforms to enter
and achieve power due to their lower barriers and the ease for platforms to gain society’s
Finally, as it has been stated before, over recent years, the SE has experienced ex-
ponential growth in terms of users, platforms and industries where it is possible to find
collaborative alternatives (Anwar 2018). This global tendency of access preference has sped
up the internationalisation process (Frenay 2018), and platforms have become an important
economic force (Evans and Gawer 2016). Together with the better exploitation of market
imperfection by platforms (Parente et al. 2018;Razeghian and Weber 2019), this fact has
created a perfect environment for the SE to grow and expand their operations all over
the world.
4.3. Potentially Influential Factors
There are some other factors that, while not being indispensable, may help explain
platforms’ internationalisation decisions. The quick speed of growth within the SE has
benefited most platforms, although it has brought some challenges. Due to this speed,
platforms willing to internalise have felt the urge to take quick decision, which on some
occasions has been an advantage and in other a drawback. According to Ochieng and
Takawira (2020), those first-mover platforms have faced many disadvantages as competitors
were aware of their decisions to avoid their errors and take advantage of their knowledge.
On the other hand, some platforms were willing to take these risks, as the benefits of first
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 13 of 23
movers outweigh the disadvantages (Felländer et al. 2015). However, wishing to enter a
location as quickly as possible, platforms can ignore their lack of knowledge regarding
the local conditions (Frenay 2018) or forget to adapt their strategies to the country-specific
factors. These facts may be the main reason for many unsuccessful operations (Kozlenkova
et al. 2021), becoming, therefore, a relevant factor to take into account when expanding
operations cross-borders.
In order to avoid as many threats as possible, platforms might tend to internationalise
in those countries in which they can achieve context-specific advantages (Nambisan et al.
2019) and where the local conditions are similar to those faced in previous countries
(Kozlenkova et al. 2021)
. The study of demographic characteristics and usage patterns can
help determine the most advantageous conditions for the SE to flourish (Kumar et al.
2018;Shaheen et al. 2017) and decide future destinations based on said data. Among
these conditions, the local language may be a determinant factor for some platforms.
They may find it easier to enter countries with similar languages (Ochieng and Takawira
2020;Stallkamp and Schotter 2019). Meanwhile, this factor may not be relevant for other
platforms, as platform software can be translated easily without incurring high costs
(Marano et al. 2020).
Although the SE is characterised by their aim for growth and expansion (Anwar 2018),
their past experience can condition this expansion, for example, regarding the speed (Ochieng
and Takawira 2020) or the evaluation of local conditions (Kozlenkova et al. 2021) in order
to avoid previous errors or repeat successful strategies, as for example collaborations. By
complementing their system with complementary asset provides, for example, insurance
companies (Mogavero 2020), platforms can manage their ecosystem and assure a sufficient
number of users on both sides (Parente et al. 2018) as well as achieve an excellent knowledge
about local conditions (Ochieng and Takawira 2020). Furthermore, these alliances may
influence internationalisation decisions by encouraging platforms to expand to those
countries where their partners are present or a higher chance to reach agreements.
Finally, when talking about factors related to the entrepreneur/manager figure, con-
trary to the born global companies, which mainly depend on the entrepreneur will to
internationalise (Bouncken et al. 2014;Kuivalainen et al. 2012), there is no evidence of SE
platforms being highly dependent on the entrepreneur goals and perceptions. In contrast to
traditional business, platforms require a management team that facilitates a strong network
connection, controls all resources orchestration, and fosters liquidity and quality matching
(Wirtz et al. 2019). Rather than being dependent on the manager’s skills, orientation,
perception, or know-how, platforms seem more motivated by external factors, such as the
popularity of the sharing model in the target country, government decisions, or population
characteristics (Ochieng and Takawira 2020).
5. The Applicability of Traditional Internationalisation Factors to Platforms:
The Blablacar Case
Blablacar (established in France in 2006) is an online platform offering carpooling
services, connecting people who need to travel with drivers who have empty seats (Cruz
et al. 2018). Blablacar posts itself as the world’s leading carpooling community which
enables low-cost city-to-city travel by connecting people with drivers going the same way.
This platform has 90 million users and is present in 22 countries, with 25 million travellers
per quarter (Blablacar 2021), and by combining their ability for identifying share ride
opportunities with the SE growth, they have come up to an efficient and popular system.
By merging social media with a reservations platform, a feeling of trust and safety was
achieved, contributing to the company’s establishment (Shaheen et al. 2017). With the
vision of bringing fairness, freedom, and fraternity to the world of travel, this platform has
revolutionised the mobility sector in Europe.
Blabacar’s main business relies on providing a common land for people who have
free seats in their cars and people wishing to travel (Mogavero 2020), offering a trendy and
innovative product. This new consumption alternative did not only offer a better value in
economic terms, but it did also rely on a more sustainable and environmentally friendly
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 14 of 23
option (Font and McCabe 2017), addressing two highly requested topics by users. Due to its
recent appearance, both the SE and Blablacar can be considered to be in the growth stage of
their life cycle, or nascent market (Casprini et al. 2019), characterised by growing demand
and by the expansion of platforms (Klepper 1997). This is the general situation, together
with the high aggregated value this alternative has achieved by granting access to goods
which, otherwise many users could not access it, has meant that Blablacar has achieved a
competitive advantage and a product differentiation resulting from the big and efficient
global network of users (Casprini et al. 2019). By achieving a balance between the supply
and demand of car seats, the platform reached a point of efficiency in which they believed
they had a product that could be successful in different countries
(Shaheen et al. 2017)
Therefore, by relying upon factors, such as the nature of their product, their stage along
the life cycle, or their competitive advantage achieved through the superior value of
their product and the network of users created, Blablacar decided to take a step toward
As pointed before, the use of technological means and the mainly online nature of
platforms suppose that their cost structure is fundamentally different from traditional
business, implying lower costs associated with internationalisation processes and lower
operating costs (Gilibert and Ribas 2019). Although Blablacar has been expanding into
different countries, their headquarters have stayed in France, their home country, com-
plemented with regional offices in some specific settings to provide users with a close,
knowledgeable contact according to their location in the globe, and constituting this with
a corporate strategy (Aversa et al. 2021). By establishing their offices where most needed
are, instead of where the lower costs are located, in operating, labour, and transport terms,
the platform is proving that their internationalisation steps are not toward lower costs
but towards better and more efficient service for all agents involved and a wider range of
options for their users.
At the moment of the first internationalisation, the number of users and car seats
offered in France was still rising (Shaheen et al. 2017). Although the platform was not
facing a decrease in their numbers, the generalization of the SE tendency along different
countries was a growth opportunity, as although there was not an explicit request for these
services, there were countries that presented an ideal set of circumstances that favoured
Blablacar’s business model implementation (Zalega 2020). Due to these being their first
steps towards the international expansion, neither the platform nor the management team,
which was more focused on programming and web services (Blablacar 2021), had enough
accumulated experience or knowledge about the foreign markets as to be influenced
when making decisions, an aspect which change as the platform gain experience and
started following a quicker internationalisation rhythm. Although before undergoing the
first expansion, Blablacar waited until having a solid performance in their home country,
after this first expansion, the pace becomes quicker and the performance less relevant,
which fits in with the idea of a gradual “foreign gateway market” followed by quick
internationalisation decisions (Ochieng and Takawira 2020).
As shown in Table 4, in the beginning, Blablacar expanded its operations in close coun-
tries, which have a greater chance of having similar demand structures and socio-economic
conditions. It could be said here that, in this case, they are following an incremental
internationalisation. By aiming at this, the process could be smoother, and the challenges
faced less demanding (Kozlenkova et al. 2021). Even though each country has its particular
institutional conditions, by expanding into countries which are not only neighbours and
therefore similar in cultures, but also into countries which operate under similar institu-
tions, as the European Union, Blablacar was able to design an expansion strategy which
could be applied in several countries at the same time. As the platform expanded into
different countries, the virtual space was translated into local languages, facilitating its
adoption by users (Blablacar 2021). Although these factors had a higher relevance at the
beginning of the internationalisation process, as Blablacar acquired experience, they began
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 15 of 23
to lose importance, and the platform expanded its operations into additional locations and
different cultures.
Table 4. Blablacar internationalisation process.
Date of Internationalisation Countries Entered
2010 (January) Spain
2011 (June) United Kingdom
2012 (May) Italy
2012 (October)
Benelux (Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxemburg)
2013 (April) Germany
2014 (January) Ukraine
2014 (September) Turkey
2015 (January) India
2015 (March)
2015 (April) Mexico
2015 (November) Brazil
2016 (January) Czech Republic
By being one of the pioneering platforms in carpooling of Europe (Mogavero 2020),
Blablacar benefited from some monopolistic advantages, as their early start provided them
with some years of experience and accumulated knowledge, which allowed them to take
advantage of market imperfections and create a network of users who, although having
alternatives, would still rely on their platform. To keep their users loyal and stay ahead of
possible changes in the industry, Blablacar started building relations with different agents
to offer complementary products to their main one. The most well-known one is their
collaboration with the insurance company Axa (Gassot 2017), which oversees covering any
incident that arises during a trip among members of Blablacar. This partnership allowed the
platform to start charging a fee to every transaction made between users, which percentage
changed according to the length of the trip and the anticipation of the booking (Mogavero
2020). Although this measure was controversial among users, Blablacar justified it with the
new incorporation of the insurance service, which added an extra safety point to the service.
Apart from this, additional services were added to Blablacar recently: buses and soon
trains. By doing this, the platform is not only securing their innovative company image, which
assists on renew themselves and boost their competitive advantages
(Calabròet al. 2016)
also fulfils the same need, travel from one place to another, by different means. This
helps to reach a higher potential market share, and therefore building an ecosystem of
services for the community (Gassot 2017). These new operations and the previous ones
and the internationalisation processes have been funded through funding rounds, the most
recent one in April 2021. This funding round secures financial stability to the platform
to keep working toward their main goal, facilitate mobility between places with shared
transportation (Dillet 2021). This compatibility strategy can lead into a new phenomenon
and influence on the travel mode choice of urban residents (Lu et al. 2019).
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 16 of 23
6. Discussion
After analysing the case of Blablacar, we can say that traditional internationalisation
theories cannot fully explain the process undertaken by platforms. In this specific case,
the analysis of the extracted factors resulted in the expected results, with some excep-
tions (Table 5). Blablacar started its international expansion process in countries with a
small psychic distance, expanding later into more distant ones (Gassot 2017). This can
be explained by the fact that the platform’s home country is located in the middle of the
European continent, which places them in an ideal location to expand their processes into
several neighbour countries at the same time. Contrary to expectations, in this case, the
platform’s performance was a key factor for the first internationalisation process (Shaheen
et al. 2017). However, it lost most of its value as the expansion consolidated and Blablacar
started operating into more countries. Finally, although according to the co-founder and
CEO, the actual strategy of Blablacar is focusing on their actual operating countries instead
of keeping expanding their activities (Dillet 2021), given the funding data and the growth
expectancies, this platform keeps positioning itself as the leading carpooling company of
Europe and a referent company in the mobility sector in general.
Table 5. Applicability of the extracted factor on Blablacar.
Derived Factor Expected Result Feasibility for Blablacar
Nature of product 4 4
Stage in the life cycle 4 4
Firm’s competitive advantage 4 4
Product’s superior value 4 4
Cost reduction X X
Opportunity to be an intermediate supplier
Labour costs X X
Barriers to trade 4 4
Transport costs X X
Product’s heritage value X X
Firm’s performance X 4
Firm’s territorial location X 4
Entrepreneur/Manager characteristics X
Time and effort pressure X
Foreign market knowledge 4
Past experience X
Relationship with foreign partners 4
Foreign language X
Exploration for market knowledge X X
Quality of knowledge X X
International orders X X
Experience in international transactions X
Firm’s perception X X
Experiential knowledge X X
Vision 4
Declining local demand X X
Increase demand in foreign markets 4 4
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 17 of 23
Previous literature had already acknowledged the lack of research regarding the
internationalisation processes within this model (Stallkamp and Schotter 2019) and the need
to formulate a new theory due to the different challenges faced and methods followed by
sharing platforms (Marano et al. 2020;Nambisan et al. 2019). This paper has corroborated
these statements by verifying that none of the existing theories can be fully applied to
the SE model. Sharing platforms share some attributes of ibusiness (Brouthers et al.
2016) and triadic business models (Ochieng and Takawira 2020), reflecting on aspects,
such as their quicker international expansion (Parente et al. 2018) or the strength of the
interaction between users (Kumar et al. 2018), which significantly influence the success of
the business model.
When analysing existing internationalisation literature, two big approaches can be
found: the gradual internationalisation and the born global (Paul and Rosado-Serrano 2019).
Their main difference is that, while the former says that companies will internationalise
in countries closer in proximity to the domestic market in terms of physical distance
(Johanson and Vahlne 1977)
, the latter are created to do global business from inception,
internationalizing within three years of founding and generating at least 25% of the total
sales in foreign countries (Knight and Cavusgil 2004). Some scholars (Gardinni et al. 2021)
suggest that the SE would fit better in the born global model due to their digital nature,
asset-free nature, and quick expansion. Although this is a real possibility, more empirical
research will be needed to check if platforms fit within this model, as, for example, born
global firms are said to need managers with a strong international orientation, which drives
them to develop better competitive advantages both in goods and technology (Knight and
Cavusgil 2004).
Sharing platforms generate competitive advantages by creating networks of users
and facilitating transactions among them, which implies that the bigger the size of the
community, the greater value the platform will generate and the more attractive it will be
for new users (Stallkamp and Schotter 2019). This suggests that factors related to local
culture, features of markets and government positions, and institutionalization factors may
affect more of these processes than those factors related to internal aspects of platforms
(Razeghian and Weber 2019;Uzunca et al. 2018;Wirtz et al. 2019). On the other hand,
factors related to production factors, like transport or labour costs, lose almost all their
importance because of the asset-free nature of platforms and the opposite cost structure
they have compared to traditional companies (Anwar 2018;Frenay 2018;Kozlenkova et al.
2021;Parente et al. 2018). In the middle of these two extremes, some factors may play an
important role for some platforms. Among these factors, some like the relationship with
foreign partners (Mogavero 2020;Ochieng and Takawira 2020;Parente et al. 2018;Wirtz
et al. 2019), local languages (Marano et al. 2020;Mascareñas Pérez 2011;Stallkamp and
Schotter 2019) or the monopolistic advantage achieve by platforms (Anwar 2018;Stallkamp
and Schotter 2019) can be found. Contrary to born global companies, in sharing platforms,
the role of founders and entrepreneurs is not as determinant in the internationalisation of
the company (Wirtz et al. 2019). Through the analysis of these factors, RQ1 was answered,
and the applicability of current internationalisation theories was addressed.
Regarding the development of a future theory that addresses the internationalisation
processes of SE platforms, considering their singular nature, and as a response to RQ2, it will
need to include factors regarding aspects such as the nature of the products/services offered,
the level of development of the SE in the location, or the value creation method followed
individually by platforms. It should also consider the importance of local conditions, from
the social characteristics to the institutional constraints and the technological development
of the country or the acceptance towards the online operations. On the other hand, factors
related to the production or distribution of goods should be relegated to the background.
7. Conclusions and Future Research Opportunities
The SE has proved to be more than a temporary trend and is challenging companies
from all around the globe (Parente et al. 2018), while becoming a significant economic force
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 18 of 23
at the same time (Evans and Gawer 2016). Due to its specific characteristics, traditional
internationalisation theories, which are mainly centred on production and distribution
factors, can only provide a partial explanation of why, how, and when sharing platforms
internationalise. Therefore, further research within this field is required.
This paper has analysed the potential applicability of existing internationalisation
theories in the SE by extracting the most relevant factors of each theory and studying
their applicability taking into consideration the singular characteristics of the sharing
model. By extracting these factors and studying their suitability, a detailed picture of the
applicability of each theory is provided, which will assist scholars when formulating a
new theory adapted to the set of characteristics of these platforms. It must be considered
that the classification of these factors has a theoretical focus, and it is based on previous
literature of the SE field, so when applying them to real examples, some of the factors may
act differently from expected. Another limitation of this research comes from the set of
internationalisation theories selected and the derived factors, which could be complement
with more theories regarding growth strategies. It should be considered as well that the
SE is in constant change and, therefore, research must evolve as platforms do, so what is
applicable today, may not be tomorrow. This fact, instead of being a daunting factor for
scholars, only encourages the constant development of new research.
In line with the previous statement, the academic implications of this paper come
from the fact that, from a theoretical point of view, the reviewed internationalisation
theories do not seem to be sufficient when it comes to explain the geographical expansion
of sharing platforms, therefore confirming what other authors said previously (Marano
et al. 2020;Parente et al. 2018;Stallkamp and Schotter 2019). Although theories cannot be
fully applied, some of their more relevant factors seem to influence internationalisation
decisions of platforms more than others. By listing the relevant factors, some guidelines are
provided for the future development of a theory which can address in a better way these
expansion processes. This theory should consider aspects such as the value creation model
of platforms, the barriers to trade to face or the institutional conditions. By providing
this breakeven point, we expect to foster research regarding the SE in general and their
expansion process in specific. This research would not only be helpful for academics
researching this topic but also managers of platforms and traditional companies. The
former would be able to count on guidelines regarding the steps to follow to have a smooth
internationalisation process within the inherent risks of this strategy and achieve a better
rate of success. The latter would have been able to have more information regarding
the most recent threat to their business model, and the environmental factors that could
make their market attractive for sharing platforms. Therefore, they have a more room to
manoeuvre when taking steps toward their answer to these questions and doubts raised
toward their systems. This paper will also help those reluctant economic entities to realise
that the SE is more than a temporary trend and that platforms could pose a problem to
their business, as they do not only compete among platforms, but also with their models
(Dunne 2017)
. Finally, there are some governments which are not sure about how to
regulate and deal with the SE (Rifkin 2000;Vitkovic 2016) and are delaying this regulation
on the grounds that this phenomenon may be temporal. This research can help them
realise the international potential of the SE and urge them to look for solutions which
accommodate all the implied agents.
To further develop the research field, scholars should analyse in depth the operations
already taken by platforms, looking at the previous and posterior data, at the industry
involved, at the specific market characteristics, as well as to the reaction of competitors,
both from the sharing and traditional field. This research should count on the platforms’
managers collaboration, which will assist in obtaining obtain empirical data, testimonies,
and motivations, and therefore, count on a more extensive amount of information coming
from different sources.
Adm. Sci. 2021,11, 98 19 of 23
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, C.P.-P. and D.B.-O.; methodology, C.P.-P. and D.B.-O.;
software, C.P.-P.; validation, C.P.-P., D.B.-O. and S.M.G.-M.; formal analysis, C.P.-P. and D.B.-O.;
investigation, C.P.-P., D.B.-O. and S.M.G.-M.; resources, C.P.-P., D.B.-O. and S.M.G.-M.; data curation,
C.P.-P. and D.B.-O.; writing—original draft preparation, C.P.-P.; writing—review and editing, C.P.-P.,
D.B.-O. and S.M.G.-M.; visualization, C.P.-P., D.B.-O. and S.M.G.-M.; supervision, D.B.-O. and S.M.G.-
M.; project administration, D.B.-O. and S.M.G.-M.; funding acquisition, D.B.-O. and S.M.G.-M. All
authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Institutional Review Board Statement: Not Applicable.
Informed Consent Statement: Not Applicable.
Data Availability Statement: Not Applicable.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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... It is acknowledged that the internationalization process, which companies go through, impacts their structures due to the competitive demands of the international market. In other words, when expanding their borders, organizations have to adapt to new legal, social and cultural demands, since it encompasses, in addition to international involvement, the strategic adaptation of resources and structure, with this view proving to be the most appropriate for analyzing the convenience and opportunity of internationalization [67,68]. Today, corporate sustainability is a competitive advantage in the present and in the term, as it seeks to satisfy the needs of organizations without compromising the needs of future generations, covering, the economic, social and environmental factors [69]. ...
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For the manufacturing industry in particular, networks lead to an increasing interaction between different actors representing a complementary response to insecurity arising from internationalization subjects. The aim of this study is to understand how cooperation networks contribute to the international sustainability of the manufacturing industry. To carry out this study, a qualitative methodology was chosen through semi-structured interviews with eight companies in the manufacturing sector from different areas. The interviews were handled with NVIVO software support. Regarding the findings, it is unanimous that cooperation networks are essential for the internationalization of the manufacturing industry. In general, the companies that participated in the study believe that the networks helped to reduce costs and to have access to certain resources that were essential for the success of internationalization. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the size of the country and the low purchasing power were some of the substantial factors that triggered the process of searching for new markets. It also became evident that there are barriers that need to be taken into account at the time of internationalization and that cooperation with other companies can help to overcome them. This study provides empirical evidence on the importance of cooperation networks for the internationalization of companies in the manufacturing industry. Furthermore, this study demonstrates the main motivations, strategies and barriers for these companies to internationalize.
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The rise of the “digital age” presents unique challenges for firms entering new markets and deciding “where” to compete – a pivotal topic in corporate strategy. Particularly, it is not clear what the opportunities and implications are for digital new entrants as they position their disruptive business offerings in the category system, in particular vis‐à‐vis non‐market stakeholders. In this article, we qualitatively investigate how two icons of the “sharing economy,” Uber and BlaBlaCar, pursued two distinct categorization strategies which were incumbent‐focused and economic versus emergent‐focused and non‐economic. Our longitudinal comparative case study reveals how digital new entrants, through self‐categorization, can enduringly impact the nature of the responses of non‐market stakeholders. The mechanism at play is ‘category priming’ – the process of directing stakeholders’ selective attention towards, or away from, the commonalities shared with a specific market category – and its stickiness over time. In particular, the distinct categorization strategies primed stakeholders to focus (Uber) or not focus (BlaBlaCar) on similarities between the entrant and an established category, which triggered polarized responses from media and regulators and resulted in a “sticky” association regardless of repositioning efforts. Our contribution dissects the constituents and consequences of these strategies and discusses implications for future research on digital market entry, strategic categorization, and business models.
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The sharing economy is transforming economies around the world, entering markets for lodging, ride hailing, home services, and other sectors that previously lacked robust person-to-person alternatives. Its expansion has been contentious and its meanings polysemic. It launched with a utopian discourse promising economic, social, and environmental benefits, which critics have questioned. In this review, we discuss its origins and intellectual foundations, internal tensions, and appeal for users. We then turn to impacts, focusing on efforts to generate user trust through digital means, tendency to reconfigure and exacerbate class and racial inequalities, and failure to reduce carbon footprints. Though the transformative potential of the sharing economy has been limited by commercialization and more recently by the pandemic, its kernel insight—that digital technology can support logics of reciprocity—retains its relevance even now. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Sociology, Volume 47 is July 2021. Please see for revised estimates.
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This study examines the factors that facilitated the international diffusion of Uber, one of the fastest growing global companies in the sharing economy. We particularly focus on the legal and institutional conditions under which this ride-sharing platform could spread to customers online. Using a unique cross-national, longitudinal dataset, we employ event history models to investigate the effect of institutional environment on the diffusion of Uber. The results suggest that the establishment of the rule of law has a positive impact on the spread of Uber, even after controlling for economic and political characteristics. In addition, the overall quality of governmental regulations on markets is positively related to the diffusion of this ride-sharing platform. Our study contributes to the emerging literature on the sharing economy by identifying critical institutional factors that enable the transformation of business models worldwide.
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The sharing economy (SE) is growing rapidly around the globe, but SE firms often encounter challenges and even failures when entering some countries. The authors conduct a meta-analysis to investigate the effectiveness of key strategic drivers of SE participation (utilitarian value, social value, hedonic value, sustainability value, and trust) and examine their relative effectiveness across global contingencies (economic/competitive, cultural, societal, technological, regulatory, and demographic factors). Results indicate that hedonic value generates the most cross-national benefits, whereas social and sustainability values provide the least. The results reveal a complex pattern of global contingencies that firms should consider when developing their entry strategies, designing governance mechanisms, and evaluating the most promising markets. Finally, the authors offer three tenets that establish an emerging perspective of global SE participation: (1) High levels of economic and social inequality between SE participants lessen the importance of hedonic benefits, but enhance the importance of utilitarian and social benefits; (2) consumers are most motivated by the benefits associated with the lowest level of their unsatisfied needs on the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; and (3) consumers are more influenced by governance mechanisms that increase their trust in providers and platforms in markets with low levels of generalized trust.
This work, originally published in 1817, is one of the founding texts of modern economics. Enormously successful as a stockbroker, David Ricardo (1772–1823) was able to lead the life of a wealthy country squire, while his intellectual interests caused him to move in the circles of Thomas Malthus and James Mill. It was at Mill's urging that Ricardo published this book, entered Parliament in 1819 (as an independent member for a rotten Irish borough) and worked for financial and parliamentary reform. Ricardo argues in this work that Adam Smith was mistaken in his understanding of the economic significance of rent, and also demonstrates the mutual benefit of free trade between countries, as against protectionism. The book's findings and conclusions have been controversial since its publication, but led John Stuart Mill to judge Ricardo 'the greatest political economist'.
This article is a research exercise. The purpose of the study is to provide an insight into what young singles know about the sharing economy and what their key motives are for using the BlaBlaCar platform, the most popular sharing economy venture for passenger transport. In the theoretical part of the text, based on a critical analysis of the literature, the concept and essence of the sharing economy are explained, the BlaBlaCar transport service is characterised as a flagship example of the sharing economy, and an attempt is made to explain the terms “single” and “young single”. The empirical section focuses on the research conceptualisation and a description of the research sample and its characteristics. Subsequently, following the author’s own research, the knowledge of young singles about the sharing economy is analysed, and the most important motives encouraging them to use the BlaBlaCar platform are discussed. The analysis is based on a survey questionnaire administered from May 1 to July 30, 2018 in a sample of 826 young singles who made independent decisions in the market. The survey shows that young singles demonstrated fairly good knowledge of sharing economy ventures and the most popular car sharing websites. However, they are confused about the rich terminology associated with collaborative platforms and often misunderstand the sharing economy, identifying it with the access economy, gift economy or on-demand economy. BlaBlaCar is undoubtedly one of the most popular examples of the practical application of sharing economy fundamentals. The survey reveals that almost three-fifths of respondents use the BlaBlaCar platform. Its active participants are most often men in the 18–23 age group, with a bachelor’s or engineering degree, earning a monthly income not exceeding PLN 3,000, and living in cities with over 500,000 inhabitants. Lower travel costs, better travel conditions, the possibility of reaching a destination quickly and directly and environmental considerations proved to be the most important motives for the respondents to use BlaBlaCar. In turn, social relations that are established among the users of websites such as are a kind of hybrid of relations developed in direct interaction during shared rides and those built up in cyberspace.
This paper is an initial attempt to use a bibliometric approach for an exhaustive literature review of corporate diversification in order to propose a new comprehensive framework for its study. We conduct an in-depth analysis of the historical evolution of research over the period 1970–2017 in six eight-year stages, shedding light on the main issues in each stage and the links among them using a sample of 1,253 articles. Attention is also paid to the three disciplines in this research stream: Strategic Management, Economics, and Finance. Our analysis reveals how the research on corporate diversification has extended the range of topics addressed and added new theoretical approaches and methodological tools, thereby ensuring greater maturity in its development. Emergent and prevailing research streams are identified, as they are expected to play a key role in the near future. We conclude by recognizing the need for an integrated theory on corporate diversification.