Value creation in the sharing economy: A multiple case study of how value is constructed in sharing economic P2P services

Mie Lindberg

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis sets out to investigate how value is constructed in the sharing economy as a network effect. The study is based on a multiple case study of two sharing economy services: GoMore who facilitates peer-to-peer ride sharing, and Airbnb who facilitates peer-to-peer home rentals. Commonly, value creation is understood as linear process wherein value is embedded in a product or service and handed over linearly from a company to a consumer. This thesis reveals that such linear approach is not applicable to the sharing economy, in which multiple products are continuously shared in all directions in networks of peers facilitated by a company. Instead, a network perspective to value creation is proposed in which value is perceived as value constructions made up of networks of heterogeneous actors. Actor-network theory is applied as the analytical framework allowing for understanding the establishment of such value constructions as collective processes of translation. Consequently, this thesis uncovers that value in the sharing economy is constructed by the simultaneous stabilization of distinct value constructions. The thesis succeeds in identifying four value constructions within each case and reveals that these are not only to be understood separately, but that they are highly related and connected to each other. In this regard, it is concluded that value in the sharing economy is constructed in two levels that are mutually dependent. Firstly, by first level value construction facilitated by the company, ensuring the initial enrolment of actors and the construction of the network, whereby the qualities ‘cheap’ and ‘safe’ are attached as stable characteristics to the network. Secondly, by temporary second level value constructions stabilized directly between peers in the process of sharing, whereby temporary and variable qualities are attached to the network, keeping the network attractive and ensuring actors’ continuous enrolment in the network. Consequently, this thesis adds to existing literature on value by suggesting that one network may simultaneously withhold additional value constructions, and that different types of value are not only to be defined by their distinctiveness, but by how they interact and correlate with each other.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages273