December 2021 Download this article as a PDFAbstract

This article provides a comprehensive framework-based review of literature on "Sharing Economy" (SE) using an ADO (antecedents, decisions, and outcomes) framework. Based on extensive coverage of studies published over a period of 12 years between 2008 and 2020, we reviewed extant research on this phenomenon from both, more developed and emerging countries. Using PRISMA methodology inclusion and exclusion criteria, we selected 93 articles for the review. The motivation to undertake this research was to understand emerging consumer behavior that intends to collaborate for consumption with the help of technological innovation. We identified major theoretical frameworks developed for investigating SEs and collaborative consumption behavior. The findings of the paper reveal possible antecedents, decisions, and outcomes of SEs. Many areas in the SE domain remain underexplored, despite recent significant advancements, and for this the paper provides directions for future research.

Introduction

Over the last decade, both the notion of a “sharing economy” (SE) and collaborative consumption have changed the way consumers are exhibiting consumption behavior through digital spaces. “Sharing” can be seen an ancient practice, while a SE as a consumption practice with the help of technological innovation is recent Belk (2014). Sharing Economies (SEs) as a research phenomenon themselves become prominent after 2008 with a majority of publications (from developed and emerging markets) spanning across the industry after 2013.

SEs are an economic phenomenon aiming to ensure access to underutilized assets and resources by different individuals through a digital platform. Through a digital platform, matchmaking is enabled between users and providers of the resources. Pallesen and Aakjaer (2020) investigated a SE as a path to welfare innovation where a digital platform is established to support citizens with lung cancer, demonstrating the use of a SE by the public sector to extend its goals. Ruben et al. (2020) examined trust, transparency, and security in SEs. Access to information is considered as one of the important digital cues to ensure trust. The study posits the role of government to facilitate information access as a way to enhance trust.

SEs have many synonyms and the SE phenomenon overlaps with various concepts like “collaborative consumption”, “collaborative economy”, “access economy”, “platform-based economy”, and “community-based economy”. Hamari et al. (2016) linked SEs to collaborative consumption and defined them as a “peer to peer" based activity of obtaining, giving, or sharing the access of goods and services coordinated through community-based online services. Digital platforms are starting to provide block chain technology-based opportunities for SEs. The literature available on SE has much complexity, inconsistency, challenges, and conceptual overlapping Acquier et al (2017).

A balanced explanation of the concept was given in the form of sharing exchange continuum by Belk (2007), as well as Gupta et al. (2019). Belk (2007) writes, that a “Sharing Exchange continuum was developed for the purpose of mapping any SE practices to determine how much non ownership forms of consumption consists of sharing related attributes” Belk(2007). For implementing a sharing exchange continuum, if any practice is categorized as a SE practice then a sharing score is calculated based on sharing vs. exchange related characteristics. SE practices, based on a calculated sharing score, are then placed on the continuum to understand whether a practice under consideration is closer to pure exchange, pure sharing, or balancing the two contrasting typologies (Habibi et al. (2017).

An SE is applied when there are unused or underutilized resources with an individual intending to share the same with others for their utilization and usage. The idea is basically to ensure community building, ownership to access, and contribution towards sustainable goals. Major beneficiaries would be the service providers who contribute the resources and assets, users who avail the services, assets, and digital platforms that facilitate matchmaking between service providers and users.

Though “sharing economy” is considered as a contested concept (Acquier et al. (2017). it is essential to review the literature available to dig deeper into the phenomenon (Gruszka, 2017). A previous research paper by Cheng (2016)reviewed 66 articles related to SE, out of which 10 specifically related to tourism and hospitality between 2010-2015. Altinay and Taheri (2019)reviewed the specific literature on SE related to tourism and hospitality to explain emerging theories and themes related to SE. Hossain (2020)conducted a comprehensive literature review on SEs, which presented a thematic analysis of selected papers between 2016-2018. In our study, we attempted to select the articles as recent as possible with a wider range of years, that is, from (2014-2020) as most publications associated with SE were published after 2013.

Our study selected 93 articles for a literature review to address the knowledge gap by contributing antecedents, decisions, and outcomes (ADO) of SEs. “Antecedents” are defined as the key motives of SE participants, “decisions” are key decisions and characteristics of SEs, and “outcomes” are key outcomes and impacts of SEs. This review also studies various theoretical lenses used to understand the SE phenomenon. While previous review studies conducted on SE have concentrated more on SE in tourism and hospitality, our study does not concentrate on one specific sector. Rather, we proposed the given framework based on relevant literature picked across the sectors from developed and emerging economies addressing the contextual gap.

In this article, we review empirical as well as theoretical studies published between the years 2008 to 2020 to understand both SEs and collaborative consumption, through the main characteristics of such phenomena in terms of antecedents, decisions, and motivations. This period was selected because the term “sharing economy” was first coined by Lawrence Lessig in 2008. The research questions addressed by this study investigate antecedents of SE as the key motives and enablers for SE, to examine the decisions that the key characteristics of a SE to participate, process, and explore the outcomes of SEs as a practice. This research focuses on proposing antecedents, decisions and outcome framework.

Hence, the article proceeds as follows: Section two presents the study’s methodology. Section three presents a review of collected material in terms of various theoretical lenses used to study SEs. This section also presents a simple but comprehensive framework with antecedents, decisions, and outcomes to examine SEs. We then briefly describe the possible motives, outcomes, and characteristics of SEs. Subsequently, in section four we outline the proposed framework, future research directions, and provide a brief conclusion.

Review Methodology for SLR

The article follows the “systematic literature review” (SLR) method found in review articles by Paul and Benito (2018). We searched using Web of Science to identify empirical and theoretical articles published on SEs from 2014 to 2020.

The initial articles search was based on keywords selected to promote emerging results and to answer the research questions. The Boolean operators were restricted to “AND” and “OR”. The descriptors for the initial search query were “SE” “OR” “collaborative consumption” “OR” “access economy” “OR” “gig economy”, “SE” “AND” “antecedents” “OR” “motivators”, “SE” “AND” “decisions”, “SE” “AND” “outcomes”. The results of these searches were filtered through inclusion and exclusion criteria to arrive at an actual number of articles to be included in the final review as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Inclusion and Exclusion criteria for “Sharing Economy” article selection

Selection results

The selected results are presented in two forms. The first search presented the total number of documents identified after the initial search. The second search using the refinement criteria presented the antecedents, decisions, and outcomes of SE. The initial search query identified 1858 total studies. The keywords used to identify the initial documents were “sharing economy”, “collaborative consumption”, “gig economy”, and “access-based economy”.

The second search was performed specifically for understanding antecedents, decisions, and outcomes of the phenomenon. The literature was searched by combining "SE" with the keyword antecedents, motivators, decisions, and outcome, using 'AND', 'OR' as Boolean operators. The search results revealed a total of 270 studies, which were reviewed again for relevance via abstract scanning, out of which 62 studies were finalized to be included in the review.

Apart from this database search, 31 additional studies were also reviewed from Science Direct and Emerald Insights, which were found to be relevant and therefore incorporated into the final review, making a total of 93 studies as depicted graphically in Fig. 1.

Figure 1. Flow chart of the literature review

Review of collected material to identify Antecedents, Decisions, and Outcomes

Theoretical Underpinnings

The extant literature on SE research posits various theoretical underpinnings that scholars have applied in the context of SE. Some of the prominently known frameworks used by scholars in the context of SE are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Summary of some of the theoretical framework within SE Literature

Antecedents to Shared Economies

Antecedents to SEs are presented considering SEs as three-sided markets comprised of consumers, service providers, and platform providers.

Zuh et al. (2017) developed a value adoption model for a ridesharing mobile application, which posits that “functional value, emotional value, and social value” are the important antecedents of overall value derived from a SE ride sharing app. Hwang and Griffiths (2017) investigated the perceptions and attitudes of millennia’s towards collaborative consumption services and found that “utilitarian”, “hedonic”, and “symbolic perceptions” of value have various impacts on millennia’s. Stollery and Jun (2017) used the value elements “monetary value, hedonic value, novelty and social interaction and perceived risks [both] performance physical and psychological to examine the antecedents in the context of Air Bnb”. Findings of the study reveal the positive impacts of monetary benefit, novelty, and social value, along with a negative impact of psychological risks. Zhang et al. (2019), in their study on mobile collaborative consumption, investigated the effects of individual sociability and enjoyment, motivation, social connection, trust, reputation, and embarrassment on participation. “Participation” here refers to the use of mobile collaborative consumption platform. Findings revealed that enjoyment, social connection, reputation, motivation, and embarrassment have positive impacts on participation.

Recent researcher has found that the main motivation of consumers to engage in “collaborative trading” (meaning, the transaction activities in collaborating economies) through a SE is the economic value they perceive via reduction in transaction costs and financial outlay (Almeida et al., 2020). Most consumers participate in SEs or collaborative trading platforms with profit maximization as their main motive (Tussydiah, 2015; Tussyadiah & Pesonen, 2016; Retamel, 2017; Davlembayeva, 2019). The motive to save has as priority for consumers participating in SEs, with less expensive products and services enabled by new information and communication technology (ICT) platforms that reduce the underlying consumer search costs and buying prices. Barnes et al. (2016) in their exploratory study argued that technological and economic drivers rank highly in the minds of stakeholders when it comes to participating in SE platforms or collaborative trading.

A second major value driver for consumers is social value. Social value includes the experiences developed while interacting and transacting with a wide network of people. Developing social relationships, belongingness, connection is basically guided by the principal of “social capital”. Social capital refers to the resources produced by the network of the human relations a person has, according to Ferrari (2017). The motivation for developing social capital could be intrinsic in nature, like enjoyment or having fun, which are also called “hedonic” motivations. Davlembayeva (2019) suggested that SE platforms can provide consumers with hedonic value, such as using products and services for enjoyment, which otherwise would not be possible for consumers to engage in or use due to high prices (Lawson et al., 2016). These kinds of consumption help consumers to maintain their status quo and thereby help customers satisfy their desire to seek status (Benoit et al., 2017).

Participating in SEs can have positive impacts on the environment (Botsman & Roger, 2010). Environmental value derived by consumers can include a sense of contribution towards sustainable consumption of products and services. Since these platforms provide access-based consumption to consumers, it impacts traffic, productivity, resource utilization, and efficiency, consequently fewer tools must be produced. The literature also argues, though, that these are not the strong motivator for consumers (Habibi et al., 2017), as access-based consumption might lead to over-consumption of the platforms and products, thus negatively impacting the environment (Benoit et al., 2017).

“Service providers” in SEs are defined as those individuals who give their under-utilized assets and services for the shared usage of consumers. The motivations for service providers to participate in SEs include entrepreneurial opportunity and social value. SEs and collaborative consumption are related phenomenon that emerged after the economic recession of 2008. The economic loss faced by people during the recession was seen as a driver to be recovered or mediated through the development of SE platforms or collaborative consumption platforms. Therefore, these consumption trends became one of the major drivers for service providers to utilize their unused or under-utilized assets as an avenue to recover economic losses, to have an additional income source, and to co-create value (Benoit et al., 2017)

Habibi et al. (2017) argue that in some collaborative consumption contexts social motivation drives participation. Airbnb stresses the community aspect of their platform and the locality of the accommodation on offer (Benoit et al., 2017). Hence, this also acts as a motivating factor for service providers who can share their under-utilized asset and also create good social connections with travelers and other consumers.

Antecedents for the platform provider approach can be the economic benefit that these platforms (Airbnb, Uber etc.) receive through matchmaking activity between the consumer and service provider. Opportunities to innovate and react to market demand and supply dynamics arise through policies like surge pricing, discounting, etc. Lastly, social relationships created by platform providers can be a motivator to participate in the collaborative consumption of a SE.

Decision-making in Sharing Economies

Decisions are the key characteristics of a SE in deciding upon how participants are going to participate in that particular SE. As per the literature reviewed, various business model are available, including, 1) Consumer-to-consumer (C2C), where access to an under-utilized asset is temporary, and transactions take place directly between consumers, 2) Business-to-consumer (B2C) where rental of goods takes place from company to consumer, which we call a “product service economy”, 3) On-demand economy, wherein we are dealing with peer-to-peer (P2P) service delivery, instead of P2P product delivery.  Notably, consumers selling goods to each other is called a “second-hand economy”, which does not fall under the category of SE as in this case permanent access is given to consumers rather than the temporary access (Frenken and Schor, 2017).

Andreassen et al. (2020) developed a paper to understand SE business models and how to create value for stakeholders with sustainability in a triadic business model. Hazee et al. (2020) investigated the design challenges and risks faced by sharing a product service system (PSS) by extending “unified service theory”. The study revealed that consumers expect that risks should be minimized to enhance their perceived consumer value via structural and infrastructural design choices. Secondly, the study also revealed a value sharing proposition in customer supplied resources, with contingency factors as consequences that must be considered while designing the system. Vigneri (2020) investigated the role of dynamic management systems to understand which factors are crucial in making a crowdsourcing platform more effective for seekers and users. Platform performance parameters include the  user base and resource structure. Kwok and Xie (2018) investigated the role of similarity between renters and consumers, including its impact on the transaction between the peer-to-peer accommodation provider, and the buyers those who are using the accommodation. The similarity they found was evaluated based on criteria like demographic information shared on the cyber marketplace. Hoskins and Leick (2019) posited that GDP will impact the likelihood that travelers will choose to book accommodation through online platforms in the SE context, with the role of online customer reviews role investigated for how they influence the decision. The findings of the study revealed that SE is seen as an acceptable alternative to the traditional incumbents. Total number of online reviews is a signal of popularity among prospective travelers, with average star rating as sign of accommodation, with positive online reviews more influential to drive rental bookings in the face of network externalities.

Regarding decision-making, consumers as users of product service systems must make a decision to participate in these SE platforms based on the utilities and motives behind the usage. Service providers have to make key decisions related to accessing assets (products and services). They also have to make service decisions while they behave as employees for customer contact representing the platform’s brand. A platform provider in the given business model must make key decisions related to maintaining trust, reducing risk, ethical perceptions of customers, platform reputation through recommendation and positive network externalities, information quality as a platform service provider, and presenting the brand to users (Benoit et al., 2017).

Berger et al. (2020) estimated that increases in income for SE players are liable to become taxpayers to the government for the revenue they are earning in the form of income. Yet it has also been argued that these platforms are involved in false reporting of taxable income, which contradicts their sole objective of being pro-social. Hence, how ethical practices are conducted in the platform are another major characteristic for a SE platform.

Outcomes and Impacts on Shared Economies

Outcomes or impact of SE can be divided into 4 subheads: economic, social, environmental, and technological.

The economic impacts of SEs can be traced, for example, when a SE offers a new medium of entrepreneurship, job creation and economic benefit (Hossain, 2020). Participating actively in SEs can become a reasonable entrepreneurial avenue wherein a service provider with an innovative thought can participate in the SE phenomenon. Job creation helps the impact of a SE contribute reasonably to eradicating the issue of unemployment wherein people can work flexible hours and gain a source of income (Cheng, 2016). Economic benefit counts as one of the important drivers in this two-sided market. From a user’s perspective, they have financial gains in terms of temporary access to the product service system that potentially contributes to savings.

SEs facilitate access-based consumption. This in turn contributes towards using underutilized assets and unused assets for a longer duration of time through accessibility. Using goods and services for longer durations of time facilitates more sustainable consumption goals. This form of consumption practices also contributes towards more efficient utilization of available resources. However, for SE firms with business models, sustainability plays an important role in long term development (Parguel et al., 2017; Piscicelli et al., 2018) and has a positive influence on peoples’ attitudes towards SE (Joo, 2015; Tussyadiah, 2016).

Ma et al. (2018) developed an empirically testable framework using theories about SEs for value co-creation, sustainable consumption and production. A case comparison was done between “Mobile and EVCARD” in order to define the parameters of value co-creation involving sustainable consumption and production and their relation with SEs. Akylken et al. (2018) investigated sustainability implications of shared mobility and the need for new approaches to governance. Findings of the research revealed that any change on any element of a SE enhances the opportunity for sustainable mobility. Sabitzer et al. (2018) claimed that SEs have promising opportunities with many positive impacts on societies and environments, potentially providing sustainable solutions due to the reduction of resource consumption and wastage.

Social connections through social bonding amongst individuals participating in SE practices and activities, creates a community feeling, with networking, etc. These are some of the social and societal outcomes of SE.

Discussion and Implications

We were motivated by the ambiguous literature on the context of SEs and the other synonymous concepts used like collaborative consumption, gig economy, access-based economy, platform-based business models, circular economy, etc. Another motivating factor was the kind of research reviews conducted to date in the context that were primarily inclined towards theoretical and conceptual foundations, or thematic analysis devoid of a possible framework to understand the phenomenon. Though it has been evident that the local market perspective is important in understanding business model innovation, here in this review we have included review articles both from emerging, as well as developed markets in attempting to gain a holistic perspective of the context and its associated variables. Various theoretical perspectives have been used and contributed by multiple researchers to investigate SE as a phenomenon like theory of reasoned behavior, social exchange theory, frame analysis, social practice theory, business ecosystem approach, OLI framework for internationalization, transaction cost analysis, etc. Meanwhile, all that the framework has become is sweeping statements in research based on mere conceptualization and lack strong empirical evidence.

In this paper, we propose the antecedents, decisions and outcomes (ADO) framework, based on the review we conducted to address SEs. Major antecedents emerging for various stakeholders to participate in SEs are: functional value, social value, hedonic value environmental value, and Entrepreneurial opportunity. The functional value of these antecedents is comprised of utilitarian motivations like perceived economic value or monetary benefits that consumers receive while participating in SEs. Social values are part of the motivation for joining a SE, in terms of gaining social belongingness, and resources developed because of social bonding while participating in a SE. Hedonic value denotes motivations like enjoyment, fun, and perceived emotional benefits that participants may experience while participating in a SE. Environmental value posits the environmental benefit that a SE platform provides through access-based consumption contributing towards sustainable consumption and development goals. Entrepreneurial opportunity addresses innovation opportunities provided by a SE platform by activating potential matching of underutilized assets for consumption.

Various decision criteria outlined by the review include product sourcing, comprised of decisions to be taken related to what should be the offering traded on a SE platform, from where to source the products/services, how to credibly verify the source, and what criteria should evaluate credibility. Establishing reputation,  which to a larger extent is governed by reviews and online ratings given by consumers and other stakeholders, depends on service quality, information quality, and navigation ease provided by the SE platform. Risk management ultimately depends on the perceived level of mutual trust established between participants of a three-sided market: the consumer, service provider, and the platform provider. Infrastructural design is considered important to reduce the perceived risks of consumers thereby enhancing the value. Other decision criteria were found to be resource structure, network externalities, and dynamic performance management system, the latter which is a system dynamics application to manage common goods.

Outcomes proposed in the conceptual framework comprise a migration of consumption pattern from ownership to accessibility. This form of consumer behavior ensures the utilization of underutilized assets to be shared with others. It offers potential to lead to flexible employment opportunities, reduced resource usage, cost-saving, less waste, sustainable consumption, and a unique customer experience.

The impacts of SEs on incumbents have increased the competition amongst traditional players and new platforms with sharing-oriented business model innovation. It is because of this that many incumbents have started initiating and incorporating a sharing model into their traditional business model through various modes like value propositions, partnerships, infrastructure sharing, etc. Though SE platforms are giving very tough competition to the incumbents, not much is currently known about the governance of these platforms. Investigations have been done by researchers saying that the same regulatory policies applied to incumbents should apply to these platforms also, due to the consideration of being a potentially tough competitor. Some investigation has taken place on the regulatory front claiming that ethical reporting of taxable income is not being done by these platform organizations to avoid liable tax payments to the government. Future investigations could enrich our understanding of this based on the above discussion and implications.

Based on the preceding discussions and review of prior literature, Figure 2 illustrates the proposed framework.

Figure 2. Proposed Framework

The managerial implications of this review can help SE platforms and traditional incumbents incorporate sharing-oriented business model innovations into their traditional business to understand the enablers and motivations of consumers. What could be the various decisions or ways in which they must decide to take up this entrepreneurial opportunity? Also, the possible outcomes or impacts it can have on business and society. This would help the incumbents with better decision-making to achieve long-term organizational goals. On the other hand, this research can also help SE platform owners to understand the major enablers and outcomes to increasing user participation.

The theoretical implication of the study extends our understanding of antecedents, decisions, and outcomes variables related to SE. The proposed ADO framework in the context of SE makes a contribution that highlights the various value propositions serving as enablers for participation, different strategic decisions to be made, and probable outcomes of participating in SEs. This study addresses the different theoretical foundations that are available to study SEs. Our suggested framework differs from earlier foundations in the sense that it explains comprehensively what could be the major motivations of several stakeholders for participating in a SE. This framework also highlights the major strategic decisions that need to be made to facilitate platform participation and improve possible outcomes of the phenomenon.

Different variables proposed in the framework allow scholars opportunities for empirical analysis. Scale development and measurement development research can also be performed to operationalize some of the constructs like entrepreneurial activity, environmental value, and sustainable consumption, thereby contributing both to SE literature and sustainable development goals (SDGs) on a broader perspective. Platform sustainability and contribution to achieving the SDGs of sustainable consumption and production are the areas wherein empirical evidence should be researched to justify the present conceptual offering. The dynamic performance management system is another process that allows scholars to perform empirical research and achieve contributions.

Limitations and Future Research Direction

The present review has a certain limitation that reveals a potential future research direction. This review used only peer-reviewed articles and excluded other forms of literature available. Future research can include conference papers or policy papers. Secondly, the selection of articles used for the review was done from Web of Science, along with some relevant papers from other databases. Additional databases can also be searched to screen articles for future systematic reviews. In this review, the peer-reviewed articles selected were in the context of developed as well as developing countries. Future research can target studying the phenomenon in local contexts.

Future research in the context of SE can make an empirical investigation possibly related to pricing mechanisms, platform sustainability, regulations, or governance. These are the topics that become prominent for upcoming research as little research has been done in this context. The above-mentioned research should be conducted including the perspectives of all  stakeholders in business model innovation and how each one gets benefitted.

Future studies can also be guided by better understanding of the market segmentation for SE services, how they can be made appealing to different types of various segments. One important outcome or impact of SEs, collaborative consumption is thought to be flexible when applied to employment opportunities termed as a “gig force”. Future research in the context of gig economics can clarify the impacts of flexible employment opportunities on regular employment of human capital in various organizations.

Conclusion

The main aim of the paper was to conduct a systematic review of literature on "sharing economy" (SE).  The present review was the first to propose the (antecedents, decisions, and outcomes) ADO framework to understand enablers, decisions, and outcomes of SEs. The findings of this research revealed the categories of social value, hedonic value, economic value, environmental value, entrepreneurial opportunity as major antecedents to participate in SEs. Trust, the reputation of the platform, a dynamic performance management system, product sourcing, infrastructure design, and the ethical perception of SE consumers are some of the major decisions related to SEs. Outcomes of SEs were found to be a consumption pattern moving from ownership to accessibility, employment opportunities, social connections, environment impacts, and potential for more sustainable business.


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Keywords: access-based economy, antecedents and motivators, collaborative consumption, decisions, determinants, gig economy, outcomes, sharing economy

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