An Investigation into the Dimensionality and Drivers of the Collaborative Economy from a Service-Dominant Logic Perspective
While the idea of individuals engaging in sharing or collaborative behaviors is not new, recently there has been a significant increase of such behaviors (Belk 2007; Botsman and Rogers 2010). At its broadest, this emerging marketplace can be labeled the “collaborative economy” (Botsman 2014) and involves direct or mediated peer-to-peer resource exchanges, which can occur with or without compensation, and allows for ownership transfers as well as access to goods, services, and experiences. As such, the collaborative economy (CE) is made up of various types of exchange such as sharing, bartering, trading, gifting, renting, or buying among peers.
Although there has been both significant growth in the CE (e.g., an expected industry valuation of $335 billion by 2025; PricewaterhouseCoopers 2015) and interest by academic researchers, there has yet to be the development of a comprehensive framework that can be used to categorize the disparate forms of CE. The purpose of this research is to provide an initial attempt at developing such a broad-based conceptual and theoretical typology of CE.
Our research is grounded in S-D Logic (Vargo and Lusch 2004) as it explains, in its most basic form, how multiple actors integrate resources and engage in service-for-service exchange for the purpose of value co-creation. This logic has been subsequently developed (see Vargo and Lusch 2016) to include the mechanisms that bind and facilitate the service or resource exchange, institutions and institutional arrangements. Consequently, this theoretical lens allows us to improve our understanding of the complex evolution of CE ecosystems and to better explain the nature of these relationships and exchanges at multiple levels.
A comprehensive literature review was undertaken with the goal of (1) fully delineating the collaborative economy, (2) identifying dimensions that can be used to meaningfully categorize various types of collaborative activities, and (3) using these dimensions as attributes in the formation of a conceptual typology. Following this extensive process, we developed a conceptual typology of eight “types” of collaborative exchanges within four collaborative economy “marketplaces”, which are constructed across three primary dimensions. These dimensions focus on (1) whether or not there is some form of compensation (e.g., trade, barter, purchases, rentals) or no expectation of compensation (e.g., sharing, gifting, lending) provided for the resource exchange, (2) whether the service provision includes a transfer of ownership (e.g., exchange of goods as with Etsy or EBay) or allows for access to a product/service/experience (e.g., Airbnb), and (3) whether the peer-to-peer exchange is mediated by a third party (e.g., company platform like Uber’s application) or no mediation occurs (e.g., direct peer-to-peer exchange as with garage sales). A summary of the eight types of collaborative exchange behaviors identified by this research with corresponding marketplace examples are presented.