Management Research Seminar Series (MRSS Lunch seminar): Dynamics of Sharing Platform Integration: Transaction Costs and Platform Strategy
Sectors from hospitality, consumer finance, freelance services to taxis have been reshaped in the last few years by the rapid emergence of online access-based sharing platforms. Notable examples of such platforms are Airbnb (accommodation services), Lyft (mobility), TaskRabbit (freelancing) and Kickstarter (peer lending). Our research analyzes the implications for business strategy arising from sharing platforms seen through the lens of Transaction Cost Theory. Our study reveals dynamics of how access-based sharing platforms function, perform, and evolve, offering analytical findings for the strategic management of sharing platforms and possible strategic responses by firms and organizations threatened by the emergence of the sharing economy. Our research posits that access-based sharing platforms are subject to an evolution from “peer-to-peer” (P2P) to “integrated” forms, where the platform owner adopts a series of governance mechanisms aimed at providing effective safeguarding, adaptation, and measurement features to transactions (which we call mechanisms of platform “integration”). The appropriate level of transaction frequency, uncertainty and specificity is considered a strategic decision taken by the owner to grow the platform by developing either cost-based or differentiation-based sources of competitive advantage. The management of transaction features generates transaction costs and determines the need, by the platform members and by the platform owner, to adopt specific mechanisms of platform integration.