Co-creation in the innovative sharing economy: An analysis using the example of AirBnB

Natalie Langlotz

Student thesis: Master thesis


The global economic system is in a transition state and collaborative consumption in the so-called sharing economy becomes a major factor within which value is co-created by empowered “produsers”. The interplay between market participants constantly switching between the roles of providers and receivers is subject to new dynamics in a highly competitive sharing economy space. Additionally, the sharing economy affects factors increasing the degree of flexibility, leading to a new competitive edge. On the contrary, this flexibility also causes vulnerability of the market participants and instability in the sharing economy. The sharing economy comprises diverse ways of exchange ranging from monetized sharing (pseudo-sharing) and un-monetized sharing (rather true sharing). Hence, reciprocity, expectations among the market participants and market logics result in new hybrid forms. The sharing economy’s accommodation segment serves to illustrate the putatively diametrically opponent ideas of sharing and the economy - using the example of the market platforms AirBnB and CouchSurfing. A literature review on the topics of value creation, co-creation and the sharing economy has been performed. Its findings have been confronted and enriched by qualitative expert interviews’ insights and the single embedded case study applied. Based on the literature a new theoretic model has been created which explains how co-creation of value in the sharing economy works. The interviews and market information helped modifying the new theoretic model. Hence, money is found to be a way value exchange is organized, a resource as input to value co-creation as well as a driving force. Thus, money is clearly a differentiating variable in the sharing economy – differentiating AirBnB from CouchSurfing. Co-creation in the sharing economy is the future which is still to be co-designed. In order to grow sustainably, there are still e.g. governmental regulations to be put into place as well as certain restraints to be removed. The internet facilitates pre-requisites enabling co-creation, such as Dialogue, Access, Risk, Transparency, Trust and Smart phones connecting the market participants. Value is co-created in a forum market through the interaction between consumer networks and nodal firms. This value co-creation is guided by culture and ethics, sharing types and motivations as well as resources as input and value drivers. Finally, the market centers around the consumer experience equaling free floating value at the heart of co-creation.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages158