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Abstract The purpose of this thesis is to increase the understanding of collaborative consumption as a concept, and the factors influencing the adoption and diffusion of this new form of consumption. As a concept, collaborative consumption is relatively unexplored, and thus an array of different, existing theoretical fields are analyzed in order to identify how they can contribute to the exploration and explanation of collaborative consumption. Theories of adoption and diffusion, networks, value-­‐creation, social movements, and motivations all contribute to providing a holistic approach to collaborative consumption. The key contributions of this thesis are the following: providing a better understanding of the adoption and diffusion of innovations in general, and the diffusion of collaborative consumption in particular; providing a better understanding of the value of the innovation to be adopted and diffused, in general terms and in particular in the case of collaborative consumption; providing a better understanding of the value and development of collaborative movements, and its relevance to the prediction of the diffusion of collaborative consumption; and providing a better understanding of the adopter, and in particular potential adopters of collaborative consumption. The result of the theoretical analysis is presented in an integrated model that builds on contributions from the different theoretical fields. The findings confirm that the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption is a complex process, and the integrated model is therefore suggested to function as a framework for further research. Furthermore, the findings demonstrate that collaborative consumption offers an elaborate value proposition to consumers. This value proposition, which seems capable of meeting economic, social and altruistic needs and wants of the consumer, may be exactly what consumers need to fulfill their complex sets of needs and wishes. Key words: collaborative consumption, adoption, diffusion, networks, value-­‐creation, generative mechanisms, motivations. 2 Table of content ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................................................................ 2 TABLE OF CONTENT ...................................................................................................................................... 3 CHAPTER 1 – FRAMEWORK OF THE THESIS ......................................................................................... 5 INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................................................. 5 STRUCTURE OF THE THESIS .............................................................................................................................................. 7 THESIS STATEMENT ...................................................................................................................................... 7 PROBLEM DEFINITION ....................................................................................................................................................... 7 CONCEPTS AND DEFINITIONS ........................................................................................................................................... 8 DELIMITATIONS ................................................................................................................................................................... 8 RESEARCH STRATEGY .................................................................................................................................. 9 PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE: CRITICAL REALISM .............................................................................................................. 9 METHOD: A THEORETICAL CONCEPTUAL STUDY ...................................................................................................... 10 CHAPTER 2 – LITERATURE REVIEW ...................................................................................................... 17 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................................ 17 COLLABORATIVE CONSUMPTION ........................................................................................................... 19 ACCESS-­‐BASED CONSUMPTION ..................................................................................................................................... 19 COLLABORATIVE CONSUMPTION ................................................................................................................................... 20 IMPLICATIONS ................................................................................................................................................................... 25 CHAPTER 3 – THEORETICAL ANALYSIS AND CONSTRUCTION OF INTEGRATED MODEL .... 26 DIFFUSION ...................................................................................................................................................... 27 THE DIFFUSION OF INNOVATIONS ................................................................................................................................ 27 INTERESSEMENT THEORY .............................................................................................................................................. 32 COMPARING THE MODELS OF DIFFUSION .................................................................................................................... 34 CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE INTEGRATED MODEL .......................................................................................................... 36 NETWORKS, PROGRAMMED SOCIALITY AND PHYSICS ............................................................................................... 37 CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE INTEGRATED MODEL .......................................................................................................... 39 THE CREATION OF VALUE ......................................................................................................................... 39 CONSUMER VALUE ........................................................................................................................................................... 40 VALUE-­‐CREATION ............................................................................................................................................................ 40 CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE INTEGRATED MODEL .......................................................................................................... 43 UNDERSTANDING COLLABORATIVE CONSUMPTION AS A SOCIAL MOVEMENT ..................... 44 COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOR ................................................................................................................................................... 44 SOCIAL MOVEMENTS ....................................................................................................................................................... 45 THE COOPERATIVE MOVEMENT .................................................................................................................................... 47 3 COLLABORATIVE CONSUMPTION SEEN AS A SOCIAL MOVEMENT ........................................................................... 48 CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE INTEGRATED MODEL .......................................................................................................... 49 PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS IN ADOPTION AND DIFFUSION .......................................................... 49 MOTIVATIONS TO ADOPT AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON THE INNOVATION-­‐DECISION PROCESS .......................... 50 CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE INTEGRATED MODEL .......................................................................................................... 55 MAIN CONTRIBUTIONS AND FINDINGS ................................................................................................ 55 THREE-­‐LEVEL MODEL OF DIFFUSION .................................................................................................... 57 CHAPTER 4 -­‐ DISCUSSION .......................................................................................................................... 64 THE THEORETICAL CONTRIBUTION OF THE INTEGRATED MODEL ........................................... 64 WHAT MAKES COLLABORATIVE CONSUMPTION SPECIAL? ...................................................................................... 64 HAS THE RESEARCH QUESTION BEEN ANSWERED? ......................................................................... 66 EVALUATION OF THE MODEL .................................................................................................................. 67 THE CHOICE OF APPROACH ...................................................................................................................... 67 CHAPTER 5 – IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSION ............................................................................... 69 IMPLICATIONS FOR THEORY, PRACTICE AND FURTHER RESEARCH ......................................... 69 THEORETICAL IMPLICATIONS AND FURTHER RESEARCH ......................................................................................... 69 PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS .............................................................................................................................................. 74 MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS ......................................................................................................................................... 76 CONCLUSION .................................................................................................................................................. 78 CHAPTER 6 – LITERATURE ....................................................................................................................... 80 4 Chapter ! – Framework of the t hesis Introduction “Someday we will look back on the 20th century and wonder why we owned so much stuff.” Bryan Walsh, Senior Writer for TIME Magazine1 Over the last few years, a new type of consumer has emerged. This consumer is consuming through sharing, and sharing through consumption. She is contributing to the network of consumers, and not only taking from it. This consumer can earn or save money and time by sharing, renting out, selling, trading and recycling idle resources, making her a micropreneur in a network of micropreneurs. Around the world start-­‐ups are building their business models to suit the needs and wants of this consumer, while the bigger, global corporations are looking for ways to adapt to this change in consumer values. These consumer-­‐driven networks are now thriving because consumers are interacting with other consumers, collaborating and creating peer-­‐to-­‐peer networks, where what you contribute is as important to your consumer identity as what you consume. This is collaborative consumption. Sharing is not a new concept, neither is collaboration. But today technology is enabling sharing and collaboration with strangers in ways we have not seen before, and while sharing and collaboration between consumers has usually been non-­‐commercial, now business platforms are being built around this form of consumption. An indication of the impact of this development could be seen on June 11 2014, as taxi drivers in several major European cities blocked roads in protest of collaborative smartphone apps that are mediating ride-­‐sharing services, thus disrupting the market2. 5 What may be the most interesting aspect of the collaborative economy, and collaborative consumption in particular, is that consumers are now looking for new ways of meeting their consumption needs. While consumers needs have not necessarily changed a lot, their means of finding ways to meet those needs are rapidly evolving. Not least are consumers increasingly finding solutions to their problems through and with peers. The peer-­‐to-­‐peer interactions are mediated by social and technological networks, where consumers are connected to their peers and/or to a collaborative business platform. Still, the concepts of collaborative consumption and the sharing economy are quite novel to the average consumer. More importantly, the topic is still quite unexplored by academia. The foundation for this thesis is curiosity toward the ‘sharing economy’, and in particular the consumer side of it – ‘collaborative consumption’. Consumption is collaborative when consumers join forces in order to access more goods and services, sometimes mediated by a commercial market actor and other times not. This new model of consumption reduces the individual’s need to own objects, while it increases the individual’s access to objects. By investigating the inherent properties of this form of consumption, and the factors influencing the diffusion of it, I seek to construct a framework that can be used to describe how and why consumers adopt the concept of collaborative consumption. The contribution of this thesis lies in providing a foundation for further research on collaborative consumption. In order to further research collaborative consumption, a theoretical understanding of the concept, its value offering, and its relevance to consumers must be provided. Thus there is a need for a conceptualization of collaborative consumption – as it is still an area where little research has been made – identifying key factors in the process of adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption, and mapping out which assumptions must be fulfilled, in order for consumers to adopt this trend to such an extent that we can see this as a paradigm shift in modern consumption. Several factors influence consumer decisions. In general, there are factors that are internal to the individual consumer, e.g. motivational mechanisms, and factors that are external to the individual consumer, e.g. society’s structural factors. The overall aim of this thesis is to identify factors that mediate and condition the process of adoption and diffusion. This will be done through a theoretical analysis, the results of which will be presented in an integrated model of the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption. 6 Structure of the Thesis The first chapter of this thesis will explain the framework of the thesis. The second chapter presents a literature review of existing literature on collaborative consumption. The third chapter describes the theoretical analysis and the construction of the integrated model. The fourth chapter includes a discussion of the integrated model, the results, and the selected approach. The fifth and last chapter sums up the thesis with theoretical, practical and managerial implications, together with a conclusion. Thesis Statement The following section will specify the general problem definition and the more specific research question that this thesis is constructed to cover. Furthermore, definitions used in the thesis will be clarified, and the delimitations of the thesis will be stated. The rest of the section focuses on the research strategy. Here the chosen philosophy of science and methods will be presented. Finally, the vantage point of the thesis is defined, and the validity and generalizability of the thesis is explained. Problem Definition As there is little research on the topic of collaborative consumption, the main objective is to use existing theories from different fields to create a framework for understanding the concept of collaborative consumption, how it is perceived and adopted by individual consumers, and how it is diffused through society. The basic premise is that theories of diffusion, together with complementing theories such as network theory, value-­‐creation theories, social movements theories, and motivational theories will help provide this framework. Research Question Which factors influence the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption and how? 7 Considerations for Answering the Research Question: >
Deciding on the appropriate philosophy of science. >
Deciding on the appropriate method. >
What value does collaborative consumption offer consumers? >
What are the underlying mechanisms of individual motivation and decision-­‐making and how do they influence the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption? >
Which structural factors influence the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption and how? Concepts and Definitions The definition of concepts is an important part of this thesis. Therefore, to provide cohesion and to ensure direct links with the application of the concepts, concepts are defined in the text, at first appearance. However, some initial notes should be made. First, while adoption and diffusion are two distinct concepts, they are closely interrelated. More specifically, individual adoption is an inherent part of the collective diffusion process. Therefore, when only diffusion is mentioned, adoption is implied, i.e. diffusion is sometimes used as shorthand for both concepts. For the most part however, both concepts are mentioned when relevant. Second, collaborative economy and sharing economy are used synonymously. Delimitations The following delimitations apply to the research scope of this thesis: Firstly, though this thesis builds on theories of collaboration and collective action, and applies them to the contemporary consumptionscape, the main focus is on the individual consumer and her internal mechanisms. I assume that the mechanisms that I am searching for are found at a lower level, within the individual. The socio-­‐economic factors are most prevalent through feedback loops from the interactions between the individual and her close environment. This close environment includes the contemporary consumptionscape. Secondly, while this thesis is an attempt at understanding the complex dynamics of the diffusion of collaborative consumption, the theoretical contribution of this thesis is not intended to serve as a fully specified theory for purposes of prediction and explanation. Rather, this thesis draws inspiration from Epp and Price (2008), who sought to stimulate research on consumption 8 aspects on family identity, and Phipps et al. (2013a), who sought to construct a heuristic model for sustainable consumption to be used for stimulating future research. Thus, this thesis should be understood as an attempt at providing a foundation for further research in the field of collaborative consumption in general, and the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption in particular. Thirdly, the focus of this thesis is on collaborative consumption in the Western world. Although collaborative consumption offers great promise for developing countries as well, the Western world has been opted for as the domain for this thesis, based on the assumption that the case of collaborative consumption in developing countries merits its own research venture due to assumed differences in consumer behavior. Research Strategy The general aim of this thesis is to contribute to the young field of collaborative consumption. The specific objective is to identify underlying mechanisms in the adoption process, thereby providing a foundation for future researchers to empirically test the propositions made in this thesis. This foundation will be built on an analysis of diffusion theories and theories relevant to diffusion, which can enhance the explanation of how consumers adopt collaborative consumption. These theories are theories of diffusion and adoption, networks, social movements, and motivations. The theories are chosen with the objective of understanding diffusion in and of itself, understanding the object that is to be adopted and diffused (i.e. collaborative consumption), and understanding what drives consumers to make different adoption choices. The findings made in the theoretical analysis, will be the basis for the construction of an integrated model, which will provide a theoretical foundation for future research. This section of the thesis will elaborate on the philosophy of science and the methods that guide the research in this thesis. Philosophy of Science: Critical Realism This thesis is based on the philosophy of critical realism. According to critical realism there exists an independent world (reality) outside of our perceptions, and “only some aspects of this world are objectively knowable via our senses” (Hart et al. 2010: 49). The main principles of critical realism are the following (Hart et al. 2010: 54-­‐56). 9 1. Critical realism distinguishes between the theory and the generative mechanism that the theory describes 2. Critical realism distinguishes the actual consequences of the generative mechanism in specific circumstances and the generative mechanism itself 3. Critical realism distinguishes between an actual instance (what happened) and empirical traces of the actual (our perception of what happened) 4. Theory testing is concerned with showing that the generative mechanism explains phenomena observed in the problem domain (which is broader than explaining the empirical). Causality, transitive and intransitive objects Critical realism distinguishes between transitive and intransitive objects of knowledge in the world. Intransitive objects are the “real things and structures, mechanisms and processes, events and possibilities of the world; and for the most part they are quite independent of us” (Bhaskar 1975: 22). Thus, the existence of an intransitive object is independent of our knowledge or perception of it. Transitive objects, on the other hand, are subjective and their existence is dependent on human activity, i.e. they would not exist were it not for humans. Typical transitive objects include theories, paradigms, models and methods. The key intransitive object of this thesis is the shift in consumer values, from non-­‐collaboration to collaboration. The thesis itself and its assumptions however, are transitive objects. Method: A Theoretical Conceptual Study A basic assumption of this thesis is that to understand the complexity of the interactions taking place in the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption, the research design should be founded on a meta-­‐theoretical level, preceding the qualitative and quantitative research (Karpatschof 2006). The objective of a theoretical conceptual study is to condense or criticize existing literature and research within the specific field, in order to identify gaps and deficiencies, or to contribute with a new theoretical approach to the problem set (Andersen, Kaspersen 2007, Hackley 2003). The objective of this thesis is to condense, criticize and combine existing literature of theories of diffusion, theories of motivations and decision-­‐making, and theories of collaboration. A theoretical conceptual study is therefore an ideal method for the purpose of this thesis. 10 Furthermore, particularly in the study of emerging phenomena, the mapping of a theoretical construct and its implications is highly valued and relevant (Fischer, Otnes 2006). A potential pitfall of theoretical conceptual studies is the use of outdated and non-­‐acknowledged literature. The latter has been avoided by setting search criteria to include only peer-­‐reviewed literature when available1. The latter has been avoided by using as recent research as possible. The vast majority of research cited in this thesis is from 2000 and onwards, and the greater part of them from ca. 2007 onwards. The Knowledge Progression Framework The notion to develop a theoretical conceptual framework is in consistence with the propositions for research on relatively unexplored topics put forth by Ansari et al. (2006). In their article about the knowledge progression framework, they state: “[n]ew research in any area typically takes on one of two forms. It creates conceptual explanations that fill gaps in our knowledge and practices, or it replicates, corroborates, and tests existing knowledge and practice techniques” (Ansari et al. 2006: 508). This thesis will be within the boundaries of the first form of research, i.e. it will aim at providing conceptual explanations. Therefore, qualitative and quantitative methods will not be part of my research, as they are seen as research methods that should be chosen subsequently, after the conceptual grounds have been laid. Furthermore, when searching for for mechanisms, statistical explanations are incomplete by themselves, as “they ultimately have to rely on intuitions about plausible causal mechanisms” (Elster 2007: 8). Elster explains how empirical methods differ from the method of explanation by mechanisms in the following statement: “Longitudinal studies consider variations over time in the dependent variable. Cross-­‐sectional studies consider variations across populations. In either case, the explanandum is transformed. Rather than trying to explain the phenomenon “in and of itself,” we try to explain how it varies in time or space. […] For predictive purposes, this might be all one needs. For explanatory purposes, it is unsatisfactory.” (Elster 2007: 10) 1 Google Scholar does not offer this option. 2 According to Elster (2007) “to explain a phenomenon (an explanandum) is to cite an earlier phenomenon (the explanans) that caused it” (: 7). 3 Use value: the utilitarian value of the function that a material object can perform (Marx 1930). Sign value is related to the symbolic dimension of material commodities (Baudrillard 1998 in Bolin 2005), and to the possibility of 11 The knowledge progression framework also has implications for the role of a literature review. When the topic is new and fragmented the formulating function of the review should be emphasized, i.e. focus should be on raising hypotheses and tentative constructs rather than testing or screening them (Salipante et al. 1982). Following this logic, and considering the newness of the topic of collaborative consumption, this thesis should be seen as an attempt to conceptualize the phenomenon of collaborative consumption and its diffusion, and to construct tentative constructs and propositions, rather than examining the validity of these. Hermeneutics as a Frame of Understanding The process of knowledge creation in this thesis is based on the hermeneutic circular tradition (Andersen, Kaspersen 2007). This tradition is based on the notion that in order to understand the whole, it is necessary to understand the contributions of the individual parts of the whole (Gadamer 1977). Therefore, this thesis is based on attempts to understand adoption and diffusion, and collaborative consumption and its inherent properties in order to provide a satisfactory explanation of the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption as a whole. According to critical realism, collaborative consumption and my understanding of it exists regardless of the research committed in this thesis. Thus, as this thesis is to be understood as an explanation of a phenomenon, and this explanation is not unique, the thesis does not contain an objective truth. Therefore, because opinions and our understanding of opinions cannot be separated from power relations, realism should be combined with hermeneutics, as realism provides support for observations of a social world that exists independently of our descriptions of it. As such, an attempt at penetrating these relations must be found in a model that builds on and combines the strength of positions that have often been considered seemingly irreconcilable opposites (Outhwaite 1996). Mechanisms and Causal Chains as Explanatory Method This thesis draws on the methods presented by Jon Elster. In his book ‘Explaining Social Behavior: More nuts and bolts for the social sciences’ (2007), Jon Elster provides a philosophy of the social sciences, together with his own vision of how it should be conducted. The basic claims of his philosophy of social science can be summarized as follows3: 1. "In principle, explanations in the social sciences should refer only to individuals and their actions" (: 13). 12 2. All explanation is causal. 3. Causal explanations are different from true causal statements. "To cite a cause is not enough: the causal mechanism must be provided, or at least suggested" (: 21). 4. Mechanisms are "frequently occurring and easily recognizable causal patterns that are triggered under generally unknown conditions or with indeterminate consequences. They allow us to explain, but not to predict " (: 36). 5. "Proverbial folk wisdom has identified many such mechanisms" (: 37), and is a main and perhaps the main source of evidence in the social sciences. 6. "Interpreting an action requires us to explain it in terms of the antecedent beliefs and desires of the agent" (: 53). 7. With very few exceptions the social sciences cannot rely on functional explanation, which accounts for action or behavioral patterns by citing their consequences. 8. "The subjective factor of choice has greater explanatory power than the objective factors of constraints and selection" (: 6). Elster’s philosophy is to be understood as demonstrating skepticism toward two common lines of reasoning in the social sciences: (1) “with very few exceptions the social sciences cannot rely on functional explanation, which accounts for actions or behavioral patterns by citing their consequences rather than their causes” (Elster 2007: 5); and (2) rational-­‐choice theory has less explanatory power than he used to think. On the account of rational-­‐choice theory, Elster however recognizes that on at least three accounts, it does have value as part of the methodological toolbox. First, he recognizes that understood in a qualitative commonsense way, “it is capable of explaining much everyday behavior” (ibid.). He also recognizes its conceptual value, even when it is not valid for explanation. Finally, he recognizes that humans want to be rational. Therefore, many of the irrationality-­‐generating mechanisms described by Elster are well served by being presented in combination with a permanent counterforce in humans’ desire to have sufficient reasons for one’s behavior (ibid.). The following quote from his book, sums up one of his key arguments (ibid.): “By and large, however, I believe that the subjective factor of choice has greater explanatory power than the objective factors of constraints and selection. This is obviously an intuition that cannot be proved in any rigorous sense, and in any case social scientists ought to have room for all the factors in their toolbox.” Furthermore, though acknowledging that causal explanation can take the form of explanation by consequences, through feedback loops from the consequences to their causes, Elster (2007) sees 13 these explanations as marginal in social sciences, and in his book, ‘Explaining Social Behavior’ (2007) focuses on causal explanations where the explanans precedes the occurrence of the explanandum2. In addition to mechanisms, Elster (2007) also writes of causal chains (which he in earlier works (e.g. Elster 1983) actually has denoted ‘mechanisms’). Causal chains can be seen as a way of “opening the black box”, i.e. trying to establish the causal chain that leads from the causes to the result, instead of merely establishing correlation along the lines of “[w]henever event C1, C2, . . . , Cn occur, an event of type E follows,” (Elster 2007: 32). This leads to more fine-­‐grained, more convincing explanations, and they will have more causal links. In this thesis the causal chains will be suggested in the integrated model. In sum, this philosophy dictates that a satisfactory explanation in the social sciences must be anchored in hypotheses about individual behavior (Elster 2007). This philosophy is particularly relevant in cases where two mechanisms of oppositely directed effects on the outcome, in order to dispel any disambiguity (Elster 2007). Finally, Elster (2007) highlights that the importance of including individual, psychological factors in the explanation of social phenomena, and claims that individual behavior is best explained by mechanisms. This school of methodological individualism is the basis for the research conducted in this thesis. Strengths and Weaknesses of the theoretical approach Although Elster claims that only core psychological mechanisms can explain human behavior, critics point to the lack of an explanation for “why people reach for that particular frame, biases and heuristics that they do in particular institutional contexts” (6 2011: 46). Thus, Elster’s critics refute the perspective that biases can explain all cases of decision-­‐making. Furthermore, it can be claimed that the biases and heuristics are not the independent causal mechanisms that Elster take them to be, but rather, they are effects, and should be treated as dependent variables (6 2011). However, when read carefully, Elster’s definition of mechanisms does not ignore the context or conditions, he merely states that they are generally unknown. In sum, Elster’s mechanisms focus on individual psychology and its influence on behaviors. Although he also treats personality as a variable in some of his explanations, the locus of his 2 According to Elster (2007) “to explain a phenomenon (an explanandum) is to cite an earlier phenomenon (the explanans) that caused it” (: 7). 14 arguments is on the mechanisms and the ensuing actual behavior. This choice of focusing on actual behavior over personality is supported by Becker (2008) who articulately describes how the investigation of types (of people) will lead to incorrect assumptions and conclusions, as individuals do not always conform to one specific type, but rather change their behavior according to the situation they are in, and thus, it is more fruitful to investigate behaviors and activities than people types. However, Becker’s inclusion of the situation deviates from Elster’s methodological individualism. At this point it should be noted that Elster does actually suggest that both rationality, and objective factors such as constraints and selection – although not considered to of great explanatory power by Elster, should be included in the toolbox of social scientists. Thus, he does not reject the idea that these factors can contribute to the explanation of human behavior. Vantage Point, Validity, and Generalizability The vantage point of this thesis is that of the individual consumer seen in relation to the consumptionscape of collaborative consumption. Thus, level of analysis is found through seeing a societal phenomenon from the individual perspective. The vantage point and level of analysis is strongly related to the chosen method – the identification and investigation of individual mechanisms in the consumer’s adoption decision-­‐making process. Validity refers to the degree of truth and accuracy in the research. In a theoretical conceptual study like this, the validity of concept is the most relevant. Because, as stated by Becker (2008: 110): “Without concepts, you don’t know where to look, what to look for, or how to recognize what you were looking for when you find it.” Moreover, he argues that concepts should be defined in their abstract theoretical form, although sociologists and psychologists alike often have equivocated the notion and importance of concept (Becker 2008). Furthermore, he suggests defining concepts by shaping the definitions based on the collection of cases. Thus, in this thesis definition are defined on the basis of cases found in the literature review and in the theoretical review. This allows for the definition of dimension that might otherwise be ignored (Becker 2008). The theoretical foundation of this thesis is constructed by a thorough analysis of highly acknowledged theorists and empiricists and their, to some degree, opposing theories. Furthermore, the theoretical foundation is based on several different, but overlapping theoretical fields, and thus I am confident that the result of the theoretical analysis is of a valid format. 15 Finally, this thesis is a conceptual contribution to the field of collaborative consumption, and as such the findings and suggested framework presented here have a high level of generalizability. 16 Chapter ) – Literature Review Introduction The purpose of a literature review is to organize existing literature, in order to demonstrate to the readers what has already been accomplished in the field, and to identify knowledge gaps and areas that need further research. This section of the thesis is a review of existing research on Collaborative Consumption. To map out existing literature on the topic of Collaborative Consumption and related concepts, a search was conducted on two database portals and on Google Scholar. The two database portals used were Emerald Insight and EBSCOhost. On the database portals search criteria were sat to exclude non-­‐peer-­‐reviewed search results, and on Google Scholar patents and citations were excluded. An overview of search results on words and concepts related to Collaborative Consumption demonstrates the dearth of research. An overview can be seen in the table below. Search item Emerald; hits EBSCOhost; hits GoogleScholar; hits* “Collaborative consumption” 12 19 710 “Sharing economy” 4 13 937 “Collaboration economy” 0 1 68 “Collaborative economy” 7 2 230 “Collaborative consumers” 0 1 28 “Access-­‐based consumption” 2 3 25 “Access economy” 2 3 212 “Peer economy” 0 0 91 L ITERATURE R EVIEW . N UMBERS D RAWN M AY 2 3, 2 014. 17 *) Numbers of hits on Google Scholar are approximate numbers. Though there is a lack of theoretical and empirical research on CC, there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence, through media coverage and authors specializing in the topic of collaboration and sharing. Therefore, this chapter will also include aspects of collaborative consumption that are covered by media accounts, or other forms of anecdotal evidence. The purpose of this inclusion is to provide examples of collaborative consumption’s significance in the contemporary consumptionscape. Anecdotal evidence is “evidence based on a single case that illustrates a phenomenon” (Goodwin 2009: 561), and can lead to faulty conclusions when relied on exclusively, as is the case in what is known as pseudoscience. As a form of evidence it is selective and ignores examples that do not fit, i.e. it often entails confirmation bias. Due to this bias, anecdotal evidence can lead to faulty conclusions “by developing theories that are too vague to be adequately tested with scientific methods and fail the test of disproof, and by a tendency to explain complicated phenomena with overly simplistic concepts” (Goodwin 2009: 34). Therefore anecdotal evidence should not be used as a stand-­‐alone form of evidence. At the same time anecdotal evidence can be seen as “a touchstone for expert opinions of the adequacy of scientific knowledge and lay contestation of the boundaries of that knowledge” (Moore, Stilgoe 2009: 672). It is also “a contact point between individuals, expert institutions, and policy decisions, and displays a flexibility between epistemological and political domains that can offer opportunities for participation and engagement, as well as exclusion and alienation” (ibid.). Furthermore, anecdotal evidence provides possibilities for addressing epistemic and political claims, both of which are “vital for the responsible management of public controversies over science and technology” (ibid.). 18 Collaborative Consumption “Sharing is to owning what the iPod is to the eight-­‐track, what the solar panel is to the coal mine. Sharing is clean, crisp, urban, postmodern; owning is dull, selfish, timid, backward.” Mark Levine, the New York Times March 5, 2009 As can be seen from the above quote, already in 2009 owning was described as unattractive and old-­‐fashioned, and in 2011 Time Magazine named collaborative consumption and sharing one of the “10 ideas that will change the world”4. In 2012 the Economist blog Cassandra supported this notion and predicted that one of the major trends of 2013 would be a redefinition of value, ownership, access, co-­‐creation, and societal responsibilities5. In 2013 Le Web, an international conference for start-­‐ups and web entrepreneurs, followed suit and dedicated their London conference to explaining the economics of the Sharing Economy, and “why it might mean the end of consumerism, as we know it”6. Further, they emphasized that the movement represents “a major economic, social and cultural shift and is redefining the way goods and services are exchanged, valued and created” (ibid.). By the time this thesis is written, there is not much doubt that collaborative consumption, as part of the sharing economy, is making an impact on the global economy and consumptionscape. This is confirmed by institutions such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, who put Sharing Economy on its 2014 agenda, and The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), who published a new statement calling for more collaborative consumption7. Rachel Botsman8, one of the front spokespersons of collaborative consumption, has been quoted stating that the shift away from ownership might be as “big as the Industrial Revolution in the way we think about ownership” and others support her notion that our relationship with ownership is changing and suggest that “we will see the mainstreaming of the ownerless mindset”9. Access-­‐Based Consumption Collaborative consumption can be seen as a subset of access-­‐based consumption, and more specifically market-­‐mediated access-­‐based consumption (Belk 2014). This section will therefore briefly review literature on access-­‐based consumption in general, while the next sections will 19 review newer literature on the newer form of access-­‐based consumption, collaborative consumption. Access as a consumption mode is an overlooked area of research, and while there are reports on access as a phenomenon (Rifkin 2000), and access in the form of short-­‐term borrowing from libraries in the public sphere (Chen 2009), not much effort has been put into examining access as a form of consumption. In contrast, ownership is well documented as the premier way of consumption in the Western world today. Generally, ownership has been perceived as the smartest and cheapest form of consumption, by providing personal security and independence, and a way of accumulating capital (Snare 1972). Access, on the other hand, has been seen as a wasteful and inferior mode of consumption with little individual freedom (Ronald 2008, Cheshire et al. 2010). Research has shown that consumers who chose rentals over ownership traditionally have been seen as misallocating their purchasing power (Rowlands, Gurney 2000). Since (poor) finances has been seen as the only motivation for choosing rental or access over ownership, consumers choosing this form of consumption have been considered to have lower financial status, or as being in a more transitory phase in life (e.g. students) (Durgee et al. They have even been considered to be failing in aesthetics, ethics and community, making them ‘flawed’ consumers (Cheshire et al. 2010). Collaborative Consumption Belk (2014) defines collaborative consumption as “people coordinating the acquisition and distribution of a resource for a fee or other compensation” (: 1597). The inclusion of other forms of compensation, embraces the concepts of bartering, trading, and swapping as described by leading collaborative consumption writers such as Lisa Gansky (2010) and Rachel Botsman (2010). However, it should be noted that this definition excludes sharing and collaboration platforms that do not allow compensation for the product or services offered (e.g. CouchSurfing) (Belk 2014). Furthermore, Belk (2014) points to two commonalities in the models of collaborative consumption: (1) the use of temporary access non-­‐ownership models of utilizing consumer goods and services; and (2) reliance on the Internet, and particularly Web 2.0, which facilitates interaction between the users. Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar (US) and Buzzcar (France), also emphasizes the importance of Internet as a mediating platform, and how consumers in partnership with companies are creating shared value10. 20 Innovative, new business models are now being built around the concept of collaborative access, consequently redefining the concept of access-­‐based consumption. These new models offer new forms of access-­‐based consumption and differ from traditional rentals by means of being enabled through digital technology, and by being not always mediated by the market, because they include more self-­‐service, and therefore more collaboration (Botsman, Rogers 2010, Gansky 2010, Walsh 2011). These new forms of access consumption mean that previous research on access-­‐based consumption may have lost its relevance, as the mechanisms influencing consumers’ choice to choose access over ownership are not necessarily the same as they used to be. Anecdotal evidence suggests that consumers and entrepreneurs were induced to learn more about these business models and modes of consumption as soon as the financial crisis hit, and the economy started spiraling downwards around the world. The crisis induced consumers to become more conscious of their spending patterns (Communispace/Ogilvy, 2011). At the same time it has been shown that a less stable labor market, increasing cost of acquiring and maintaining ownership, and more fluid social relationships are causing ownership to be less attractive than it used to be (Cheshire, Walters & Rosenblatt 2010). Furthermore, Bardhi and Eckhardt (2012) suggest that collaborative consumption might be more fitting to modern lifestyles, because they are much more fluid than they used to, and they state that “ownership and attachment to things become problematic in an increasingly liquid society” (Bardhi, Eckhardt 2012: 883). Ritzer (2008) posits that what used to be considered solid, e.g. institutions, people, objects, information and places, are increasingly dematerializing and liquidizing, while Bauman (2000) postulates that consumer identity projects are also fluid, and therefore “what is valued is ever changing” (Bardhi, Eckhardt 2012: 883). Owyang et al. (2013) underline the importance of increasing population density, the drive for sustainability, the desire for community, and generational altruism as significant societal drivers of collaborative consumption. Furthermore, technological innovations such as social networking technologies, mobile devices and platforms, and payment systems have mediated the emergence of collaborative consumption (Owyang, Tran & Silva 2013). These innovations enable matching of supply and demand and facilitate peer-­‐to-­‐peer transactions that were not previously possible, while also mediating trust between participants (Owyang, Tran & Silva 2013, Botsman, Rogers 2010, Bardhi, Eckhardt 2012). Huang (2012) also support the notion of information technology as an enabling factor in collaborative consumption. 21 Motivations for Participation in Collaborative Consumption Most of the existing research on collaborative consumption focuses on motivations for participation, i.e. consumers’ motives to participate in collaborative consumption activities. One of these studies is a study by Hamari and Ukkonen (2013), which looks at collaborative consumption in relation to different types of motivations and their influence on attitudes and actual behavioral intentions. They indicate that the possible discrepancy between motivations and their effects on attitudes and behavior warrants an interesting context for research (Hamari, Ukkonen 2013). They found that attitudes are determined by intrinsic motivation, while use intentions are better predicted by extrinsic motivation, together with intrinsic motivation in the form of enjoyment of the activity. Furthermore, they found that one of the most important factors for the formation of positive attitudes towards collaborative consumption is perceived sustainability, while intentions to participate in collaborative consumption communities are based on a motivation for economic benefits (Hamari, Ukkonen 2013). Their results suggest that aspirations to become an environmentally conscious consumer do not necessarily translate as much to behavior as it does to attitudes and it is suggested that further research is made on coordination mechanisms that can mitigate such problems in collaborative consumption (Hamari, Ukkonen 2013). Thus, the discrepancy between motivations influence on attitudes and intentions mentioned earlier is not fully analyzed, and thus, is still relevant for further research. Hamari and Ukkonen (2013) also discuss how motivation can change as individuals learn more about collaborative consumption. For example, one can imagine that an individual initially is motivated by intrinsic motives (positive attitudes are formed), but that extrinsic motivation becomes more important at a later point (resulting in use intentions). In a study of consumers’ general affinity for sharing, advertising and marketing agency Campbell Mithun (Campbell Mithun and Carbonview Research report of 201211) found that both rational and emotional benefits come into play. Specifically, they found and ranked five rational benefits, and five emotional benefits. The rational benefits were: (1) financial – it saves me money; (2) environmental – it is good for the environment; (3) lifestyle – it provides me with flexibility; (4) lifestyle – it is practical; and (5) trial – it provides access to goods and services. The emotional benefits were: (1) generosity – I can help myself and others; (2) community – I’m valued and I belong; (3) lifestyle – I’m smart; (4) lifestyle – I’m more responsible; and (5) cultural – I’m part of a movement. 22 Thus, assuming that consumers base their motivations on expected benefits, also this study suggests that there is a complex set of motivations that influence consumer’s attitudes and use intentions toward collaborative consumption. This complex set of motivations may be a source of controversy. This controversy is described by Neal Gorenflo, who, while being one of collaborative consumption’s earliest and most eager advocates, now sees this form of consumption as the end of the true sharing economy (Gorenflo 2013). He is worried that the sharing economy, and thus also collaborative consumption, is growing too fast, thereby moving away from the principles that first attracted him and other early adopters, away from what he describes as “the unique and even transformative social experiences made possible when you interact with helpful strangers” and that “money is ruining what started out as a transformative concept” (Gorenflo 2013). Erin Griffith has a more balanced and analytical take on it, and while she to some degree supports the notion that money “taints the sharing economy” (Griffith 2013), she also admits that money make the services offered through collaborative consumption platforms better, by providing enough resources for the platforms to become more professional. She states that “free sharing economy sites overlook people’s inherent capitalist nature” and she also acknowledges that the money is a main motivator in the sharing economy (as it is elsewhere) (Griffith 2013). According to her, the sharing economy is at its most robust when it includes some kind of monetary transaction, i.e. when it is not really sharing, but rather renting, (re-­‐)selling and buying (Griffith 2013). In a case study of car sharers’ attitudes towards and motivation for participation in car sharing, Bardhi and Eckhardt found that “the predominant object-­‐self relationship is that of use value” (2012: 894), i.e. motivation to participate in car sharing is based on self-­‐interest and utilitarianism, and that the consumption is not motivated by altruism. Thus, their findings challenge the typical somewhat romantic assumptions about access (see e.g. Belk 2010), i.e. that it is motivated by altruism and enjoyment from sharing (Hamari, Ukkonen 2013). In fact, Bardhi and Eckhardt (2012) deem that access “can be underlined by economic exchange and reciprocity” (Bardhi, Eckhardt 2012: 882). Thus, while Belk (2010) suggests that sharing is motivated by caring and loving, even outside of families, Bardhi and Eckhardt (2012) find that the subjects in their car sharing case study are motivated by self-­‐serving motives, and therefore are more similar to what Belk (2010) calls commodity exchange or gift exchange. This notion is supported by Désaunay (2013) who also found that collaborative consumption is more motivated by economical than social or environmental reasons. Furthermore, Bardhi and Eckhardt (2012) posit that it is the use value that motivates the subjects’ use of car sharing, but that this use value 23 has “gained sign value in the society at large” and that this sign value3 is that access is a more economically savvy and more flexible form of consumption than ownership (Bardhi, Eckhardt 2012: 890). However, while some actors in collaborative economy state that collaborative consumption’s most powerful value proposition lies in the economics that it is offering consumers, and that this is what will drive the development of the collaborative economy12,13, others challenge this view, and believe that the social motivation is more important than the economic ones14. A study conducted by Huang (2012) emphasize the role of social motivations, which entails motivations to build emotional connections and intimacy (e.g. make friends and share experiences), to participate in a community, to collaborate in order to achieve common goals, to engage in identity formation and experimentation, and to negotiate their relationship with consumption objects. Furthermore, when consumers are connected through common consumption desires, interdependence between them is created, and they rely on each other to build personal reputation and credibility (Huang 2012). The importance of the experience of socially interacting with other humans is continually emphasized by actors in the collaborative economy, and unlike personnel at traditional businesses, e.g. taxi drivers and hotel concierges, peers are not perceived as agents representing a commercial business15, thus the consumer experience in the collaborative economy is given an extra social dimension. Finally, while some describe trust as the real innovation of the Collaborative Economy16, implicitly defining it as an intrinsic motivation, others see trust, or rather, lack thereof, as a hurdle for the diffusion of collaborative consumption17. However, most businesses built around collaboration and sharing are using trust proxies to overcome the potential hurdle this represents. With centralized systems to protect their interests, such as the system of reviews and quality assessment, the collaborative consumers’ trust are backed by quality assessment and insurance systems. 3 Use value: the utilitarian value of the function that a material object can perform (Marx 1930). Sign value is related to the symbolic dimension of material commodities (Baudrillard 1998 in Bolin 2005), and to the possibility of differentiating oneself from others (Bolin 2005) 24 Implications The purpose of this literature review was to identify which aspects of the collaborative consumption have already been investigated, and how insights from these studies can aid in gaining a better understanding of the diffusion of collaborative consumption. In sum, the literature review has revealed that the driving forces of the development of the collaborative economy can be characterized as societal, economic or technological (Owyang, Tran & Silva 2013). Furthermore, the result of this review suggests that a complex set of motivations is mediating the adoption of this new form of consumption. Huang (2012) underlines the importance of gaining an understanding of how collaborative consumers are connected with one another, and how they act collectively, as this is key to understanding this new type of consumer. Furthermore, this thesis is based on the assumption that a better understanding of collaborative consumers and collaborative consumption will help explain the diffusion of this new form of consumption. This is important, especially because, at this point, it seems consumers are catching on to this new ethos at a faster rate than academics and marketers are (Prothero et al. 2011). The literature review has identified the following key words: value, value creation, society, transformative [social] movements, culture, platforms, motivation, experience, and trust. These keywords have guided the selection of theory in the next chapter, which aims at explaining diffusion, collaborative consumption, and the collaborative consumer. Propositions I will conclude this review with three propositions: Proposition 1: Economic, altruistic and social motivations mediate the formation of attitudes and use intentions toward collaborative consumption. Proposition 2: Mechanisms relevant to social movements (i.e. transformative movements) are also relevant in the diffusion of collaborative consumption. Proposition 3: Technological and social networks mediate the diffusion of collaborative consumption. 25 Chapter ) – Theoretical Analysis and Construction of I ntegrated M odel The purpose of this chapter is (1) to analyze how different theoretical contributions can help shed light on how to better understand collaborative consumption and its diffusion, and (2) to construct a model based on the theoretical contributions, that can lead to way for future research. The theoretical analysis is divided in four sections. First, theories of diffusion are included in order to explain how innovations are diffused through society. Second, theories of value-­‐
creation are included. As an understanding of the innovation and its value proposition is important to the understanding of the potential for diffusion, this part of the theoretical analysis has the purpose of explaining collaborative consumption and its value offering. Third, theories of collective behavior and social movements are included to exemplify how collaborative consumption can be understood as collective behavior, how collective behavior and social movements emerge, and how they create value for the participants. Fourth, theories of attitudes, intentions and motivations are included in order to provide a better foundation for understanding the mechanisms in the consumers’ individual adoption decision-­‐making process. Thus, the first part of the analysis has the purpose of providing a better understanding of the adoption and diffusion of innovations in general, and the diffusion of collaborative consumption in particular. The second and third part of the analysis has the purpose of providing a better understanding of the value of the innovation to be adopted and diffused, in general terms and in particular in the case of collaborative consumption. The third part of the analysis has the purpose of understanding the value and development of collaborative movements, and its relevance to the prediction of the diffusion of collaborative consumption. The fourth and last 26 part of the analysis has the purpose of providing a better understanding of the adopter, and in particular potential adopters of collaborative consumption. Lastly, the chapter will be summed up, and the construction of a model describing mechanisms and mediating factors in the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption will be explained. Diffusion This section is an analysis of theories that help shed light on the diffusion of innovations. Rogers’ (2003) diffusion theory, serves as a starting point for the further exploration of factors contributing to the diffusion process. In addition to Rogers’ diffusion theory, this particular part of the analysis will include a discussion of contributions made by an opposing model of diffusion, i.e. interessement theory. Finally, theories of how networks are formed are included, with their contributions to how networks are formed, and how they can enable relations and interactions between potential adopters and non-­‐adopters. The Diffusion of Innovations In the field of diffusion of innovations, none have made as many contributions as Everett M. Rogers, who over a period of over 40 years has constructed and continuously revised a theoretical framework for the adoption and diffusion of innovations. He defines diffusion as “the process in which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system” (Rogers 2003: 67). The theory divides adopters into five groups, according to how quickly they adopt a specific innovation. These groups are: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. He uses these types of adopters to differentiate between personalities and tendencies to adopt. The time it takes for a person to have positive attitude towards a product and buying it, is called a KAP-­‐gap (KAP stands for Knowledge, Attitude and Practice). The longer the KAP-­‐gap, the slower the person is to adopt, and will therefore be defined as one of the slower adoption types (e.g. late majority or laggards). Individuals that are part of the early majority are some of the first to try out an innovation and have a relatively short KAP-­‐gap, but they have far more opinion leadership than innovators, meaning that they have more influence on the decision-­‐making process of other potential adopters. This is due to the relatively shorter social and cultural distance they have to the 27 majority, compared to the distance between innovators and the majority. Therefore, they are more likely to influence the rate of diffusion. The individual adoption process, which Rogers (2003) names the innovation-­‐decision process, is described as five different stages that an individual adopter or non-­‐adopter goes through over time (Rogers 2003). Thus, Rogers’ framework describes the adoption decision-­‐making process from the adopter’s perspective. However, the purpose of the framework is to enable firms to operationalize important diffusion concepts, e.g. to design products that offer relative advantage to the consumer. T HE I NNOVATION -­‐ DECISION P ROCESS ( R OGERS 2 003: 4 01) Rogers (2003: 400-­‐401) describes the five stages as follows: 1. Knowledge occurs when an individual is exposed to an innovation’s existence and gains an understanding of how it functions. 2. Persuasion occurs when an individual forms a favorable or an unfavorable attitude towards the innovation. 3. Decision takes place when an individual engages in activities that lead to a choice to adopt or reject the innovation. 4. Implementation occurs when an individual puts a new idea into use. 28 5. Confirmation takes place when an individual seeks reinforcement of an innovation-­‐
decision already made, but he or she may reverse this previous decision if exposed to conflicting messages about the innovation. In addition to the five stages, Rogers also includes prior conditions, which describe the consumer’s previous practice, felt needs and problems, innovativeness and norms of the social system. However, Rogers does not elaborate much on these concepts. According to Rogers, the second stage, Persuasion, covers more of a feeling perspective than knowing in stage I. Thus, Rogers, though focusing more on observations on the innovation’s inherent properties and the parts of human behavior that can be easily observed, acknowledges that the persuasion taking place in stage II involves less rational behavior. In stage II the adopter actively generates knowledge about the innovation and shapes an attitude towards it. If adoption is to take place, a favorable attitude has to be made (Rogers 2003). The last stage, confirmation, involves whether the adopter will recognize the benefits from the innovation, after the choice to adopt has been made, and recommend it to others as well as make a repurchase. This stage is of crucial importance for the diffusion of the innovation, as both positive and negative feedback stemming from one adopter’s confirmation stage is used in in the earlier stages of the adoption process of other later adopters. The Inherent Properties of the Innovation According to Rogers (2003), between 49 and 87% of the variance in the ‘rate of adoption’ can be explained by the perceived attributes of the innovation. These attributes are: (1) Relative advantage: ”the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes” (Rogers 1995: 212). The underlying principle is that the greater the perceived relative advantage and newness of an innovation, the more rapid is the rate of adoption. (2) Compatibility: ”The degree to which an innovation is perceived as being consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters” (1995: 224) An individual will find it easiest to adopt if the innovation is consistent with what she believes, have understandings about and covers some kind of demand. (3) Complexity: ”the degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult to understand and use” (1995: 242). According to Rogers’ definition, complexity is always perceived as an obstacle for adoption, and thus the more complex a product is, the less chances it has to become adopted. 29 (4) Trialability: ”the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis” (1995: 243). If an innovation is trialable, it results in less uncertainty for adoption. (5) Observability: ”the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others” (1995: 244). The easier it is for individuals to see the results of an innovation, the more likely they are to adopt. In the figure, trialability, the fourth perceived attribute of the innovation, pertains to the second stage, the persuasion stage. However, Rogers also describes it as being related to the decision stage (stage III). He states that a trial of a product almost always leads to an adoption decision, that is, the decision to reject or accept the innovation. Acceptance of the innovation is more likely to occur if the trial is done within a known social system and even better if introduced by an opinion leader (Rogers 2003). Limitations of Rogers’ Theory of Diffusion Though Rogers’ model offers a cohesive description of the adoption and diffusion of innovations, several researchers have challenged his Diffusion Theory. The critique has been directed at different aspects of the theory, from the fact that it is a linear model and focuses on the innovation’s intrinsic properties (Christiansen, Varnes 2008), to claiming that it has only “a distant link with reality” (Akrich et al. 2002). Other critics of Rogers’ diffusion theory have pointed to the limitations of the assumption of one-­‐way communication, and static technologies and innovations. In the latest edition of his book, Rogers (2003) himself points out main categories of criticism and contributions made to his research. Some of these are: the pro-­‐
innovation bias, the individual-­‐blame bias, and the recall problem. The pro-­‐innovation bias “is the implication in diffusion research that an innovation should be diffused and adopted by all members of a social system, that it should be diffused more rapidly, and that the innovation should be neither re-­‐invented nor rejected” (Rogers 2003: 269). One suggested method of overcoming this bias is to conduct diffusion research before the innovation is fully adopted and diffused, as a means to avoid research to concentrate around successfully diffused innovations. Other suggestions to overcome and work around the different critique points are to include factors such as re-­‐invention, the broader context, and motivations for adoption. These are factors that will be further elaborated on in this chapter, seen through the lenses of co-­‐
creation, social movements, and motivational theories respectively. 30 The individual-­‐blame bias is relates to the tendency to “hold an individual responsible for his or her problems, rather than the system of which the individual is a part” (Rogers 2003: 295). To overcome this bias, Rogers suggests to move away from the tradition of using individuals as the sole units of analysis, changing focus from only change agents (the ones who seek to diffuse the innovation) to all participants, including potential adopters and rejecters, and to include structural social and communication variables (Rogers 2003). The recall problem is related to the issue of dependence on self-­‐reported recall data used in most diffusion studies. This point of criticism points to the unreliability of this method, and Rogers suggests using alternative data collection methods to overcome the issue. The issue of the recall problem arises when subjects post-­‐adoption are asked to recall and explain their decision-­‐making process. The recall problem can be seen e.g. in the two main studies reviewed in the literary review in Chapter 2. Both Hamari and Ukkonen (2013) and Bardhi and Eckhardt (2012) got the results on which they based their conclusions from interviews and surveys where individuals who already were collaborative consumers participated. Hence, in these specific cases, it is possible that even though the interview and survey subjects at the time they were asked indicated that extrinsic motivation was the main motivation for adoption it may be that intrinsic motivation was what lead them to become collaborators in the first place. Or it could be that intrinsic motivation lead them to seek more information about CC, and that the motivation shifted from being purely intrinsic to being more extrinsic when they got to know the concept better, as suggested by the knowledge stage in Rogers’ innovation-­‐decision process. However, Bardhi and Eckhardt (2012) do distinguish between the use value perceived by adopters, and the sign value perceived by the society at large, thereby to some extent reducing the problem of recall. It should be noted that these biases happen in researchers’ treatment of diffusion, and unlike other biases mentioned in this thesis, they are not biases to which the potential adopter or non-­‐
adopter is subject in their individual decision-­‐making processes. (The last problem – the recall problem, is indeed a cognitive problem of the adopter/non-­‐adopter, but (for the moment excluding feedback mechanisms) it does not occur in the actual decision-­‐making process, but rather at a later stage, i.e. when she is asked to recall the decision-­‐making process.) However, this further adds to the argument of the need for a holistic framework for adoption and diffusion research that suggests ways to overcome these biases and issues. Another suggested solution to the challenge of seeing adoption as a binary process (i.e. the innovation either has been adopted, or it has not been adopted (yet)) is to see the adoption of 31 especially complex and modular innovations as a stepwise process where these complex innovations are adopted through a multilevel, or stepwise, process (Huizingh, Brand 2009). Thus, the process can be seen as a cyclical process and therefore also offers remedy to the issue of the linearity of Rogers’ model. Huizingh and Brand (2009) argue that while the binary definition of adoption is a useful definition for the adoption of less complex innovations, e.g. a portable music player, the situation might not be as straightforward with more complex innovations, of which the collaborative lifestyle would be a good example. Main criticisms of Rogers’ Diffusion Theory: the pro-­‐innovation bias, the individual-­‐blame bias, one-­‐way communication, linearity, and static technologies with predefined value offerings. Suggested solutions: include factors such as re-­‐invention and adaption, the broader context, motivations for adoption, all actors in the analysis, and the possibility of seeing adoption as a stepwise process. Interessement Theory Interessement theory, as part of actor-­‐network theory (ANT), offers an alternative description of how the diffusion of innovations happens. ANT first emerged in the sociology of science and technology, and it offers a specific approach to sociology (Law 1992). As a theoretical perspective, ANT relies on a worldview where innovations are constructed by relations between human and non-­‐human actors. ANT theorists argue that Interessement theory includes more of the dynamics of innovation than Rogers’ theory does. These dynamic relationships modify and adapt the ideas and innovations, and they are said to be created through a process of interessement. Interessement is defined as the process of developing the network by convincing more and more actors to take part. Thus, the environment and the innovation are being produced at the same time, as the constant sociotechnical compromises and negotiations will adapt the innovation, and eventually explain its adoption (Christiansen, Varnes 2008) Interessement was first introduced as a concept by Michel Callon (1986). According to the model of interessement, “the fate of the innovation depends on the active participation of all those who have decided to develop it” (Akrich et al. 2002: 208). Thus the process of interessement happens when actors are recruited to become allies, thereby constructing a network that speaks on the behalf of the innovation and all of its allies (Akrich et al. 2002). In this model, the socio-­‐technical analysis underlines how adoption can be seen as adaptation, or in the words of Akrich et al.: “To adopt an innovation is to adapt it: such is the formula which provides the best account of diffusion” 32 (Akrich et al. 2002: 209). Most importantly, interessement theory states that an innovation is adopted through adaptation, transformation and modification “according to the site where it is implemented” (Akrich et al. 2002: 209). Thus interessement theory accounts for both interactions and feedback mechanisms in the form of adaptation and negotiation, and the context in the form of networks, links and interactions between all the actors in the network. As a result, by using interessement theory as a tool for socio-­‐technical analysis, analysts combine two areas of analysis that are often separated: the technological analysis, which describes the innovation and its inherent properties, and the sociological analysis, i.e. the environment within which the diffusion happens (Akrich et al. 2002). Finally, according to ANT and interessement theory, innovations are not the carriers of value, but rather value is created within the networks in the society as a whole. More specifically, interessement theory suggests that value is created by constant renegotiations and reconfigurations in the interactions taking place between human and non-­‐human actors. Limitations of Interessement Theory It is worth emphasizing that actor-­‐network theory, from which interessement theory originates is not, despite its name, a theory – i.e. it does not explain why things happen, but rather how they happen. Furthermore, interessement theory, as part of ANT, relies on a social-­‐constructivist perspective, and argues that the reality does not exist until described by science (Latour, Woolgar 1979), and then it is constructed through the interplay between both human and non-­‐
human actors in the network (Latour 1987, Law 1992). Thus, from a philosophical perspective, ANT and the theory of interessement are not compatible with the philosophy of critical realism., as critical realism was launched with the claim that “science is only meaningful because the deepest level of reality exists independently of science and scientists (Bhaskar 1978)” (Elder-­‐Vass 2008: 455). Elder-­‐Vass (2008) highlights that ANT’s lack of depth ontology prevents it from recognizing the significance of mechanisms and the power of social structure. On the other hand, he supports the notion of realists learning from ANT’s method of tracing “the connections through which structures are constantly made and remade” (Elder-­‐Vass 2008: 455). Moreover, ANT’s practice of treating human and non-­‐human actors symmetrically may prove to be a valuable provocation to sociologists who tend to entirely neglect non-­‐human entities (Elder-­‐
Vass 2008). The following section will compare the two models of diffusion, in an effort to describe how they both contribute to the explanation of the diffusion of collaborative consumption. 33 Comparing the Models of Diffusion The theories of diffusion of innovations, Roger’s Theory of Diffusion and Interessement Theory as prescribed by Callon (1986) and colleagues (Akrich et al. 2002) present two radically different theoretical paradigms. Rogers’ (2003) theory of diffusion is a linear model, where passive consumers either adopt or do not adopt an innovation with a pre-­‐defined value offering. This model only superficially includes the socio-­‐economic environment, and treats it as constant and known once and for all. The actors are assumed to be mostly passive throughout the process, and creators of value are assumed to be a relatively small, clearly defined group of designers who are responsible for product development. Consumers are presumed to be passive with regards to value creation, and at the end of the process, they are traditionally assumed to be either adopters or non-­‐adopters, with nothing in between. With its whirlwind process of value-­‐creation through networks and links, interessement theory provides alternative theory where Rogers’ diffusion theory falls short. In interessement theory, innovations and technologies are far from static, and adoption happens through adaptation and multi-­‐way communication and interessement of actors. Thus, it offers an alternative on how to perceive the diffusion of innovations as a chaotic whirlwind-­‐like process, as opposed to the formal, linear and quite normative process of Rogers’ diffusion theory. Thus, interessement theory, with its focus on adaptation and the sociotechnical context, provides alternative suggestions as to how to overcome both the pro-­‐innovation bias, and the individual-­‐blame bias. By adopting some of the principles of Interessement theory, researchers can reduce the risk of falling prey to the pro-­‐innovation bias, as interessement theory, is more concerned with how (and whether) diffusion happens, and does not presuppose that the innovation should be adopted. Furthermore, and more importantly, the notion that “adoption is adaptation” represents an alternative definition of adoption, and highlights the importance of re-­‐invention. However, in the last edition of his book, Rogers (2003) seeks to meet the critics of his linear model, and includes a discussion of the concept of re-­‐invention and adaption of innovations. He confirms that re-­‐invention, tough not recognized for the first few decades of diffusion research, is an important aspect of the adoption process, and researchers (Rogers included) now acknowledge that innovations are not always ‘perfect’ for all potential adopters, and that such innovations still can be adopted through re-­‐invention and adaptation, i.e. the user changes or modifies the innovation in the adoption process (Rogers 2003). Thus, Rogers (2003) expands his theory by supporting the notion that it is not merely a question of whether the innovation is 34 adopted or not, but how it is adopted, as different adopters can perceive a certain innovation differently and the individual might have to modify the innovation to suit his or her preferences (Rogers 2003). Finally, the diffusion of an innovation, according to interessement theory, relies on all actors, both human and non-­‐human, both spokespersons and change agents and other actors in the network. Thus, in the case of non-­‐adoption or rejection, blame cannot be attached to the one individual, as is the case with the individual-­‐blame bias that is often found in research utilizing Rogers’ Diffusion theory. Though, as already mentioned, in his last book, Rogers (2003) does suggest to change the level of analysis, from focusing on the individual, to including all participants, including potential adopters and rejecters, and to include structural social and communication variables. The main differences of the theories are described in the table below. 35 Diffusion
Technical$factors$over$social$elements.$Analysis$is$limited$ Co<creation$of$technical$and$social$properties.$Analysis$
restricted$to$the$limited$circle$of$designers$responsible$ the$collective$dimension$of$innovation$elaboration.
The$communication$of$the$different$stages$in$the$various$ The$focus$of$investigation.$Characterized$by$interaction,$
Method$of$diffusion$of$the$innovation's$predefined$value Method$of$co<creation$of$value
T HEORIES O F D IFFUSION O F I NNOVATION Contributions to the Integrated Model While Rogers’ normative theory of diffusion explains how diffusion should happen, Interessement theory claims to describe how it happens. As already suggested in the above paragraphs, the two different theories of diffusion make different contributions to the field of adoption and diffusion research. While Rogers’ theory provides structure and formality, making it easier for companies wanting to operationalize the theory, interessement theory shed light on the complexity of 36 diffusion. For instance, interessement theory suggests how adaptation and re-­‐invention can actually be enabling factors in the decision-­‐making process, mediating the decision to adopt. Furthermore, the notion of seeing non-­‐human actors as just as important as human actors supports the notion of seeing technology as a mediating factor in the diffusion of collaborative consumption. To conclude, interessement theory’s contribution to the integrated model lies in its conceptualization of diffusion as a non-­‐linear process, with interaction between all actors, which is illustrated by feedback loops. Moreover, another contribution lies in the inclusion of adaptation and non-­‐human actors as important variables in the adoption process. Networks, Programmed Sociality and Physics “Networks exist only because of what you put into them, not what you take out” Peter Schwartz, futurist; cofounder and chairman, GBN, and partner in the monitor group, (cited in Gansky 2010) The purpose of including theories of networks in the theoretical analysis is twofold: First, it adds explanatory power to the understanding of the networks through which innovations are diffused; and second, it helps explain how technology can be a mediating factor in the diffusion of collaborative consumption. Mark Granovetter (1973) was the first sociologist to identify weak links in social networks as being the most crucial to tying a social community together. The argument is that if person A is linked to two persons, B and C, by strong ties, B and C are also likely to have a direct, strong connection between the two of them, and thus the link that person A provides is not crucial to linking B and C. Weak links, however, or social ‘bridges’ like Granovetter calls them, are important to expanding the social network, because they are the ones that sew different social networks together – making the world ‘smaller’(Buchanan )The growth of networks are assumed to be directed by the nodes that have the most links to other objects, in the case of social networks, the ones that are connected to the most people. More specifically, the links form “in accordance with a rule of “preferential attachment” – new links attach wit higher probability to elements that already have many links” (Buchanan ). Actually, this seems to be a particularity of 37 social networks, in contrast to other networks, where highly connected elements on average tend to be connected to low-­‐degree elements (Pastor-­‐Satorras, Vázquez & Vespignani 2001, Newman, Park 2003). By taking on a software-­‐sensitive approach, it can be suggested that online relations are actually made up by both non-­‐humans and humans, and that software lays out structural constraints for the decisions made within the network (Bucher 2013). This approach bear semblance to actor-­‐
network theory, but does not assume full adoption of the specific set of vocabulary nor vantage points normally associated with ANT (Bucher 2013). Seeing an online networking platform as assemblage, or the French concept of agencement – “a formation and a process of assembling rather than a static arrangement” (Bucher 2013: 3), helps viewing the platform as a “a productive force: it makes new relations possible” (ibid.). Thus, relations on online social platforms can be seen as cases of programmed sociality, “which should be understood as a process of sociotechnical negotiations between users and software” (Bucher 2013: 13). Thus, technology is seen as being not neutral, but rather a mediating and productive force. The field of physics offers yet another perspective of how network theories can be used in the explanation of collective behavior in general, and the diffusion of collaborative consumption in particular. Theories of networks and theories of the physics of institutions both argue that though human behavior cannot be understood without volition – the unpredictability of human decision-­‐making (i.e. we can change our mind at the very last moment), there is a risk of overestimating the power and scope of free will (Ball ). This is based on the notion that most social situations impose constraining factors on the decision-­‐making: social norms, economic necessities and a restricted range of choice (Ball ). What both social and economic scientists have tended to overlook, is the interaction in these networks, a factor that is intrinsic to statistical physics (Ball*). Thus, thinking of social interaction and relations in terms usually reserved for physics offer explanations to social behavior in a very different manner than the traditional psychological models. These models make the “often unwarranted assumption that social behavior is a straightforward extrapolation of individual behavior” (Ball ). Thus the argument is as follows: just as a study of a water molecule will not allow us to predict its behavior in interaction with other water molecules (i.e. the transformations between solid form to liquid and then gas according to the temperature it is exposed to), the study of individual behavior will not necessarily allow us to deduce the social behavior of a group (Ball ). Another lesson learned from physics is that transition between states and phases happen abruptly, just like water transforms to gas form when the temperature rises from 99 to 100 degrees. This is in contrast to the general assumption of social science, where small changes to a system will induce 38 correspondingly small changes to the system’s behavior (Ball ). Thus, there is a nonlinear relationship between cause and effect. Seeing social interactions from the physics perspective offers another feature as well: the fluctuations of the economic markets are constantly experiencing fluctuations that seem to be scale-­‐free, i.e. there is no characteristic size scale to the fluctuations (Ball ). “This is very significant, since it is often those relatively rare big fluctuations that economists are interested in: the booms, slumps and crashes” (Ball ). Physicist actually have the confidence to propose that phenomena that we know from physics are expected to arise in social behavior, because they have discovered how universal these things are in other systems, both non-­‐living and living (Ball ). It is quite obvious that the communication technology, e.g. the Internet and mobile applications, that we surround ourselves with today, is instrumental in the formation and linking of networks. Contributions to the Integrated Model The theories of networks and the physics of institutions offer the contribution of seeing non-­‐
human actors as mediating factors in the process of diffusion. Furthermore, it offers the theoretical contribution of differentiating between individual actors and networks of actors – stating that understanding individual behavior does not constitute an understanding of collective behavior. Thus, the contributions made by these theories contradict Elster’s assumptions that behavior should always be explained at an individual level. However, these contributions are aligned with Elster in that they also assume that the power of free will can be overestimated. While Elster focus on how mechanisms in the form of biases and heuristics can overrule what we have come to know as ‘free will’, these theories focus on the context conditioning free will through social norms, economic necessities and a restricted range of choice. The Creation of Value This section of the thesis will elaborate and analyze the creation of value and its relevance to the adoption and diffusion of innovations, and how different forms of interaction in collaborative consumption function as mediating variables. The definition and conceptualization of value and the value-­‐creating process is crucial to firms 39 and their understanding of how to meet consumers’ needs and wants. As part of the exploration of the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption, one of the key objectives of this thesis is to discern what value collaborative consumption offers consumers, and how this value is created, adopted, and diffused. This is of importance both in order to understand the consumers’ motivation to participate in the collaborative consumption, and in order to provide practical and managerial suggestions on how firms and organizations should create and offer value to the consumers. Consumer Value The different theoretical approaches to value can be summarized as follows: (1) the sociological definition: the conception of what is ultimately good or desirable in human life, (2) the economic definition: a person’s willingness to pay the price of a good, (3) value as a meaning and meaningful difference and (4) value as experience (Boztepe 2003, Boztepe 2007, Graeber 2001). This classification has been further developed, and five different perspectives to value have been identified (Boztepe 2007). First, there is the notion of seeing value as a belief system, where society and culture defines lasting norms that determine actions, preferences and attitudes (ibid.). Second, value can be seen as exchange, and defined in economic terms by the price people are willing to pay for a good. This is also what is known as ‘consumer value’. Third, value can be seen as use, where the utility of the inherent properties of the product is the determinant of value. Fourth, value can be seen as meaning and difference, which takes into account the context of the consumption experience and what it means to the consumer. Fifth, value can be seen as experience, which focuses on the value derived from the experience of the consumption activity. According to Boztepe, this last perspective of seeing value as experience covers the four other definitions of belief system, exchange, use, and meaning and difference (ibid.). Value-­‐Creation With regards to where consumer value stem from, researchers have adopted different perspectives. While some argue that the consumer subjectively assigns value to the consumption experience, and that this value is independent of the innovation’s inherent properties, others contend that value is indeed dependent on the inherent properties of the product, and that this value is then recognized by the consumer. 40 There are four approaches to value creation. These are: (1) the Firm perspective; (2) the Consumer perspective; (3) the Co-­‐creation perspective; and (4) the Co-­‐construction perspective. This thesis builds on the last of the four perspectives. The following section will elaborate on all four approaches and discuss how they describe the value of collaborative consumption. The Firm-­‐Centric Perspective This perspective assumes that value is created by the company, and that the process of value-­‐
creation happens exclusively inside the firm. Furthermore, the product or service is assumed to be the carrier of value (Prahalad, Ramaswamy 2004a, Prahalad, Ramaswamy 2004b). The consumer is perceived as a passive recipient of value, and is involved only at the point of exchange (Prahalad, Ramaswamy 2004a) This perspective offers two conceptions of the market: the structuralist and the reconstructivist definition (Tollin, Carù 2008). According to the first perspective, the market is a stable structure with boundaries that can be predefined, and with fixed entities of customers. Here, the firm can position itself in the market through segmentation and differentiation (Kim, Mauborgne 2004). The other perspective, the reconstructivist approach, assume markets to be dynamic as a result of intense competition, which makes it difficult for companies to create a sustainable and profitable growth through the structuralist approach. Here, the firm must make competition irrelevant through offering superior value to their customers. This is what is named blue ocean strategies (Kim, Mauborgne 2004). Both of the approaches assume a firm-­‐centric perspective, where products are carriers of value, and consumers are passive recipients of value. However, in the reconstructivist approach, the aim is to satisfy not yet identified demands, and thus consumers have a somewhat more active role, as the firm needs to create superior value by exploring beyond current customer needs (Christiansen, Varnes 2008). As this approach assigns no value to the social interactions, and consumers and firms are clearly separated, this view on value does not align with the inherent properties of collaborative consumption. The Customer-­‐Oriented Perspective This perspective assumes that the creation of value happens in the mind of the consumers as they experience the consumption of the product or service. Thus, the value is influenced by emotional and psychological factors that influence the consumer’s perception of the product. Like the firm-­‐oriented approach this approach does not assign value to the interactions between 41 the firm and its customers, and consequently it does not offer a good description of the value-­‐
creation taking place in collaborative consumption. Furthermore, the notion that value is created in the minds of the consumers is in conflict with the critical realist approach of this thesis, which implies that the value of collaborative consumption is an intransitive object, and exists independently of human activities. The Co-­‐Creation Perspective This perspective assumes that value is created in the interaction between companies and consumers, and thus challenges the firm-­‐centric and customer-­‐oriented perspective. Here, value acknowledges the empowered, connected, informed and active consumer, and value is understood as a co-­‐created individual experience (Lusch, Vargo 2006, Prahalad, Ramaswamy 2004a, Prahalad, Ramaswamy 2004b). Thus, value is determined by a specific consumer experience at a specific point in time, place and context. Although this perspective is neither firm-­‐ nor customer-­‐centric (Prahalad, Ramaswamy 2004a), customer-­‐orientation is regarded as a prerequisite for co-­‐creation. In this perspective the firm adapt to customer needs by learning from and collaborating with the customers. Thus, the roles of the firm and the customer converge as they both take part in the value-­‐creation (Prahalad, Ramaswamy 2004a). Here, the consumer is an active co-­‐creator of value, and not a passive recipient. In order to enable co-­‐
creation and collaboration, firms must create platforms for interaction experiences between consumers and the firm. This perspective also challenges the traditional notion of a clear division between demand and supply. This perspective offers a better framework for describing the value of collaborative consumption. First of all, it accounts for value-­‐creation happening in social interactions. Furthermore, the consumer is seen as active and connected, which provides a better description of the collaborative consumer. Moreover, it accounts for the context of the value-­‐creating experience. Finally, it accounts for how firms must provide a platform for collaboration and value-­‐creation, which describes the business model of the majority of firms in the collaborative economy. The Co-­‐Construction Perspective This perspective assumes that objects are not carriers of value, but rather, value is perceived as a value construction that is constantly being renegotiated and reconfigured in the interactions taking place between human and non-­‐human actors in networks. This perspective is the perspective of Actor-­‐Network Theory, and here, consumers are active adapters, and the success 42 of an innovation relies on the users’ ability and willingness to adapt the innovation to satisfy their needs (Akrich et al. 2002). Focus is on the relative unstable networks between actors, and thus, the possibility of identifying market segments is rejected (Christiansen, Varnes 2008). Both entities and relationships are continuously created and re-­‐created, making markets, products, services, value, and brands stable only for a certain period of time when the fragile networks are created. In conclusion, in this perspective the division between the firm and the consumer is blurrier than ever. As a final remark, it should be noted that this perspective, if interpreted to the extremes, implies that consumer needs and wants are irrelevant, as they are unstable and depend on temporary relationships between different actors. This perspective also offers some insight useful to the understanding of the value-­‐creation in collaborative consumption, e.g. that objects are not carriers of value, but determined by interactions in networks with both human and non-­‐human actors. Hence, like the co-­‐creation approach, this approach also includes the possibility of seeing technology (non-­‐human actors) as mediating factors. However, I assume that in collaborative consumption both the networks and the value created are of a more stable nature than what is prescribed by the co-­‐construction perspective. Contributions to the Integrated Model The main insights from this section of the theory analysis are related to the value created in collaborative consumption. Thus, theory of value-­‐creation contributes to the understanding of the inherent properties of collaborative consumption. The framework of this thesis prescribe a perspective that is positioned somewhere between the co-­‐creation perspective and the co-­‐
constructivist perspective. This is based on the understanding that collaborative consumption is built on platforms like those described by the co-­‐creation perspective, and the notion that value is determined by a specific consumer experience at a specific point in time, place and context is a reasonable definition of the value offered in the collaborative economy. The co-­‐constructivist perspective, on the other hand, offers other contributions to the understanding of the value created in the collaborative economy. For example, the notion that the value is not bound by the product or service per se, but rather a result of negotiations and reconfigurations between the human and non-­‐human actors – which resonates with the assumption that the value sought in collaborative consumption is determined, in part, by both the interactions between people, and the mediation of technology. However, in this thesis the main contribution from the co-­‐
constructivist perspective is not so much that of constant reconfiguration and renegotiation, but rather the inclusion of non-­‐human actors (i.e. technology) as mediating variables. 43 Understanding Collaborative Consumption as a Social Movement The purpose of this section is to better understand the inherent properties of collaboration and collective behavior, and how they influence consumers’ perceived value of cooperation and collaboration. As this section will demonstrate, reviewing collaborative consumption through the lens of social movements can add layers to the understanding of the value offered by this consumption mode, and more importantly, how social movement dynamics can shed light on the diffusion of collaborative consumption. Collective Behavior Collective action can be seen as a prerequisite to social movements, and is, by its simplest definition, people doing things together, but it is traditionally defined as an interest common to or shared by a group of rational individuals (Oliver 1993). However, one of the greatest paradigm shifts in sociology came when Mancur Olson in 1965 presented the argument that collective action was actually irrational, because were it not, the ‘free rider problem’ would discourage individuals to contribute to a cause where the benefits were not exclusive (Oliver 1993). Smelser defines collective behavior, which is closely related to collective action18, as “mobilization on the basis of a belief which redefines social action” (Smelser 1963: 8). It is “guided by various kinds of beliefs – assessments of the situation, wishes, and expectations […]. They also involve an assessment of the extraordinary consequences which will follow if the collective attempt to reconstitute social action is successful” (Smelser 1963: 8). However, collective behavior is not institutionalized behavior (Smelser 1963). Rather, it is behavior “formed or forged to meet undefined or unstructured situations” (Blumer 1957: 130). Furthermore, Smelser (1963) identifies six important determinants of collective behavior, which must be present in this particular order, for collective behavior to emerge: (1) Structural conduciveness (2) Structural strain (3) Growth and spread of a generalized belief (4) Precipitating factors (5) Mobilization of participants for action (6) The operation of social control 44 Structural conduciveness: Structural conduciveness relates to if, how and why contextual structures enable or hinder collective behavior. However, conduciveness is nothing more than a factor making a certain situation or outcome possible. Thus, in order to predict collective behavior, other determinants must be assessed (Smelser 1963). Structural strain: Structural strain can appear in the form of real or anticipated deprivation, ambiguities, conflicts or discrepancies, and play an important role in the initiation of collective behaviors such as social movements (Smelser 1963). Growth and Spread of a Generalized Belief: Through a generalized belief that identifies the source of strain, its characteristics and possible solutions, the situation at hand is made meaningful to potential actors. These beliefs can be characterized by hysterics, wish-­‐fulfillment, hostile, norm-­‐
oriented, and value-­‐oriented (Smelser 1963). Precipitating Factors: A typical precipitating factor will be a dramatic event that will “give the generalized belief concrete, immediate substance” by either confirming or justifying the belief, initiating or exaggerating a condition of strain, or sharply redefine the conditions of conduciveness (Smelser 1963: 17). Mobilization of Participants for Action: This point of the process marks the onset for the collective behavior that the previously listed determinants, the one that brings the affected group into action (Smelser 1963). Here, Smelser emphasizes the importance of the behavior of leaders. The Operation of Social Control: According to Smelser (1963) this determinant is the most important in the study of collective behavior, and he states that social control can be divided into two types: (1) social controls that minimize conduciveness and strain; and (2) social controls that are mobilized only after a collective episode has begun to materialize. In regard to the second type of control, a central question is how the control authorities act or react in a situation of collective behavior. Social Movements Social movements are a specific kind of collective behavior. They are formed by individuals and organizations that share a distinctive identity, and who through informal networks mobilize resources on conflictual issues (Diani 1992). 45 Traditionally, collective phenomena have been seen as the production of new social norms and solidarities, and social movements were seen as engines of change, particularly in the area of values systems (Porta, Diani 2006). The focal point of research has been change in social structures and prescriptions (Blumer 1951, Turner, Killian 1987, Gusfield 1963), and individuals have been seen as being pushed by conditions like population mobility, technological innovation and mass communication (among others) to search for new patterns of social organization (Porta, Diani 2006). Today a number of studies (Diani 1992, Diani 2003, Diani, Bison 2004) have confirmed that social movements are a distinct form of social process, consisting of specific mechanisms where actors engaged in collective action: “(1) are involved in conflictual relations with clearly identified opponents, (2) are linked by dense informal networks, and (3) share a distinct collective identity” (Porta, Diani 2006: 20). However, although conflict is often present in many social movements, it should not exclude consensual social movements or collective actions where one cannot easily identify a conflict (Porta, Diani 2006). Mooney (2004) highlights that the social movements perspective “calls attention to the possibility that cooperation might valued for its own sake. No longer seen as merely a means to a given end, the means and ends of cooperation are understood as fused; or stated differently, the process of cooperation prefigures an interest or value in the cooperation itself as an objective that inheres in the very process of cooperating” (Mooney 2004: 92). This reinforces the claims made by Zamagni and Barton (2012, 1989) that social benefits and human capital are important motivational factors for the creation and participation in cooperatives. As opposed to traditional social movements, new social movements involve the emergence of materialization of new or formerly weak dimensions of identity that are “associated with a set of beliefs, symbols, values and meanings related to differentiated social groups” (Johnston et al. 1994: 8). Thus, collective identity results from a process of “negotiation and ‘laborious adjustment’ of different elements relating to the ends and means of collective action and its relation to the environment … by this process of interaction, negotiation and conflict over the definition of situation, and the movement’s reference frame, the members construct the collective ‘we’” (Johnston et al. 1994: 14). And in this process, the lines between the individual and the collective are blurred. This adds to the argument that neo-­‐classical economic models, with their assumption of the individual as a rational actor, is not adequate for explaining the uniqueness of cooperative forms of organization (Mooney 2004). 46 Porta and Diani (2006) identify four core questions that are relevant to social movement analysis. These questions are: -­‐
Is social change creating the conditions for the emergence of new movements? -­‐
How do we define issues as worthy objects, and actors as worthy subjects of collective action? -­‐
How is collective action possible? -­‐
What determines the form and intensity of collective action? The Cooperative Movement Cooperatives can be seen as a specific form of social movements. Generally, cooperatives are formed as a result of a form of group action called economic integration, which includes horizontal and vertical integration (Barton 1989). One of the main motivations for forming cooperatives has been the need for an organizational model that recognized and unified both the distinctive and common interests of producers and consumers (Mooney 2004). The users, or customers19, are motivated to participate by the benefits they expect to receive. These are related to the motivations that led to the creation of cooperatives, and include improved prices, increased efficiencies, and access to the cooperative’s trade partners. When cooperative users are consumers, their motivation is primarily “to meet their consumption needs as economically as possible” (Barton 1989: 9). In conclusion, the motivations for the formation of cooperatives and for the participation in cooperatives are closely connected and are all related to price benefits, market benefits, cost benefits, or social benefits. In addition to the economic benefits of being a member of a cooperative, there are also benefits of social value, which drive social motivations. These include the satisfaction felt through “association, unity, and involvement characteristic of member-­‐controlled organizations” (Barton 1989: 16) and “the way it adds value to human capital” (Zamagni 2012: 31). Furthermore, Mooney argues that “cooperatives’ ties to place hold potential for the renewal of community” (2004: 95). As we face an increasingly global economy, cooperatives offer direct participation in economic life and it provides members with moral claims fundamental to the establishment of community (Etzioni 1993). Moral claims like these are excluded from economic models that are grounded in personal self-­‐interest, which have traditionally been used to guide cooperative development and Mooney (2004) therefore underlines the significance and importance of a 47 “more holistic and multidisciplinary approach to theory”, as called for by Torgerson, Reynolds and Gray (1998) Finally, some insight to understanding collaborative consumption and its diffusion can be gained by looking at identified success criteria for cooperatives. Zamagni mentions three conditions that seem to be essential to the formation and success of cooperative movements in developed countries: “the presence of cooperatives is higher where: 1) cooperatives are not confined to one single sector, but are diversified and can form networks with backward and forward linkages (Menzani, Zamagni, 2010), tending to strengthen the size of their business; 2) business networks can be supported by strong and active federations and umbrella organizations; 3) ‘civic virtues’ are widespread. Civic virtues are based on the propensity of citizens to be active and responsible with reference to the ‘common good’” (Zamagni 2012: 32-­‐33). Collaborative Consumption seen as a Social Movement Seeing Collaborative Consumption as a social movement, sheds light on several aspects of the diffusion of collaborative consumption. First, it allows us to identify a set of variables that may cause collaboration. Second, it suggests some mediating variables. The variables are listed below. Independent variables Mediating variables Beliefs Irrationality (emotions Dependent variable and Collaboration biases) cooperation Wishes Social mobility Expectations Technological innovation Consequences Mass communication Values Conflictual relations Norms Networks Structural conduciveness Social/cooperative motivation and 48 Structural strain Economic motivation Mobilization for participants for action Operation of social control Contributions to the Integrated Model Analyzing collaborative consumption through the lens of social movements offer some historical insight on how collaborative movements have evolved and diffused. More importantly, the theory suggests specific frameworks for analysis, and these are the main contributions to this thesis and its integrated model. Both the framework suggested by Smelser (1963) and the one suggested by Porta and Diani (2006) focus on context and enabling variables, though in general terms. While Smelser’s method is quite normative and is built on the concept of value-­‐added, where consecutive steps determine the outcome of collective behavior, the questions suggested by Porta and Diani have a more exploratory approach. However, both frameworks contribute insights on the significance of context and mediating factors in collaborative activities, and also to the more or less organized diffusion of these activities. Psychological Factors in Adoption and Diffusion While the traditional approach to adoption and diffusion studies has emphasized the characteristics of the innovation, and to some extent the interactions taking place between potential adopters (e.g. communication between early majority and later majority), newer adoption and diffusion research show that “consumer-­‐related factors might be more important than innovation characteristics in explaining adoption” (Wunderlich et al. 2013: 358). Several authors demonstrate that innovation adoption can be included as a special case of decision-­‐
making, through quite different and broad approaches not traditionally used in adoption theory. Bagozzi (2007) suggests that in order to form a general, tight motivational mechanism most proximal to decision-­‐making, it is key that adoption research integrates the adoption process into a larger framework for human decision-­‐making. Although Rogers’ diffusion theory does touch upon some psychological factors, it does not pay attention to the underlying mechanisms 49 that can explain consumer behavior. This section will therefore analyze existing literature evolving around the psychological variables influencing the adoption and diffusion of innovations. Motivations to Adopt and their Influence on the Innovation-­‐Decision Process Elster (2007) claims that in order to interpret behavior, it should be explained in terms of the antecedent beliefs and desires and the resulting motivations of the agent. Thus, in the terms of Elster, the causal chain is as follows: beliefs and desires, which result in motivations, which result in behavior. Motivations can therefore be said to be a mediating variable – mediating the effect beliefs and desires have on behavior. Several studies have investigated how psychological factors such as values, beliefs, attitudes and attention influence adoption and diffusion. For instance, it has been demonstrated that the inclusion of psychological factors such as beliefs and attitude, and social factors such as social support and social acceptance, together with prior experience, offers better explanations of some of consumers’ belief-­‐attitude-­‐buying intention relationships than when these factors are not considered (Yoh et al. 2003). Furthermore, several studies confirm that attitudes play an important role in the adoption process (Vishwanath, Goldhaber 2003, Hamari, Ukkonen 2013). Finally, beliefs are also found to indirectly influence intentions, through influencing attitudes (Vishwanath, Goldhaber 2003). Especially in the adoption of transformative services individuals’ values and norms are important, since these services entail societal benefits, as opposed to conventional services, which mainly involve benefits to the individual (Wunderlich et al. 2013). Several mechanisms illustrate how behavior feeds back into the decision-­‐making process, thereby influencing future behavior. One of them is the spillover effect, which describes how a particular type of behavior in a particular kind of situation ‘spills over’ into behavioral patterns in other types of situations (Phipps et al. 2013a). In the case of collaborative consumption the spillover effect would come into effect when e.g. car sharing activities leads the consumer to opt for collaborative consumption also when choosing holiday accommodation. Another mechanism, working in the opposite direction, is the licensing effect. The licensing effect comes into play when one particular kind of positive behavior at one point in time induces the opposite sort of negative behavior at a later point in time. For instance, sustainable behavior at one point in time can activate and justify non-­‐sustainable behavior (Phipps et al. 2013a). However, it remains important to emphasize that mechanisms such as spillover and licensing, though illustrating the 50 importance of reciprocal determinism in the model of sustainable consumption behavior, also demonstrate the uncertainty of the valence of these feedback loops (Phipps et al. 2013b). Motivational Conflict Though it is assumed that economic motives are essential for the adoption of an innovation, for certain innovations, prestige might be just as important (Rogers 2003). Rogers suggests that the adoption of innovations such as clothing fashions, newer car models (e.g. hybrid autos) and ultra thin laptops might be sparked by the desire for prestige rather than economic matters (Rogers 2003). This potential conflict between prestigious and economic motivation warrants a more thorough investigation of the theoretical foundation for the motivation for adoption in general, and collaborative consumption in particular. The case of collaborative consumption is highly relevant, as both anecdotal and empirical evidence indicate that motivation for adoption of collaborative consumption can be complex, and ranges from purely altruistic to purely gain-­‐
seeking. Thus, often consumers will find themselves faced with conflicting motives, either by having to choose between two desirable outcomes (e.g. choosing between vacation destinations), by desiring an outcome and at the same time want to avoid it (e.g. wanting a second car, but not wanting to pollute more), or by being forced to choose between two less desirable outcomes (e.g. not wanting to be invest in a car, but also not wanting to go to work by public transport). These motivational conflicts are referred to as ‘approach-­‐approach conflict’, ‘approach-­‐
avoidance conflict’ and ‘avoidance-­‐avoidance conflict’ (Solomon 2006). When a compromise between two conflicting motivations is possible, the stronger motivation usually dominates the weaker one. But, as explained by Elster (2007), this is a simplistic representation, as the determination of ‘strength of motivation’ is quite complicated. For example, different societies have different normative hierarchies of motivation, leading to metamotivations, “desires to be animated by desires of a certain kind” (Elster 2007: 90). Furthermore, in cases of conflicting motivations, cognitive dissonance theory predicts that when one motivation is slightly stronger than another, individuals will try to make the decision easier by making one of them decisively stronger. Thus, ‘strength’ of motivation cannot always be taken as given, but instead, at least to some extent and on some occasions, be seen as a product of the decision-­‐making process itself (Elster 2007). Moreover, the idea that motivational conflicts are resolved according to motivational strength is undermined by motivational path 51 dependence (ibid.). Motivational path dependence occurs when individuals assign values to different options, and then, to some degree polarizes these values in order to make the decision easier (i.e. trying to solve the cognitive dissonance). When a third option is then introduced, which, had it been introduced earlier, would have been assigned the highest value, now comes in second, because the best of the ‘first’ options has a value even higher (due to the polarization of values that happened at the stage where there were only two options with values close too each other). Another mechanism that can determine the formation of attitudes and use intentions is the overjustification mechanism. This mechanism occurs when an expected external incentive, e.g. money or prizes, decreases a person’s initial intrinsic motivation to perform a task (Wiersma 1992). When extrinsic rewards are no longer offered, the initial intrinsic motivation does not return, and interest is lost. The Influence of Identity, Values and Norms Identity is one of the factors that influence a consumer’s motivations and behavior. Identity is formed by a process in which individual actors recognize themselves and are recognized by others in a social setting, as belonging to a particular group and where these individuals develop emotional attachments to the group (Melucci 1989, Melucci 1996, Goodwin et al. 2009). However, individuals in the same group do not necessarily have similar identities, and one individual can even have multiple identities (Porta, Diani 2006). Individuals can also choose to assume a particular identity through the consumption choices they make. By actively designing their consumption experience, consumers assume control to purposefully determine their own identity (Gould, Stinerock 1992). Thus, individuals do not only assume different identities to fit in in different cultures, but individuals might also seek to represent a particular lifestyle (Banbury et al. 2012), thereby making this a motivation for the behavior typical of that lifestyle. This clearly demonstrates that there is some degree of feedback mechanisms in the formation of identity, thereby influencing the adoption behavior of consumers. Another suggestion that the interactions between the individual and the context represent feedback mechanisms in human decision-­‐making can be seen in situations where group motivations are prevalent. Thus, members of a specific culture can also experience psychogenic needs, e.g. the need for status, power, affiliation, and similar needs (Solomon 2006). These needs reflect the culture’s general priorities (Solomon 2006), and demonstrate how both wants and psychogenic needs are highly influenced by culture (Solomon 2006). Furthermore, this illustrates how feedback mechanisms 52 influence the adoption and diffusion of innovations, by suggesting how context and consumer culture is actually embedded in psychological factors such as consumers’ wants and needs. Schwartz and Bilsky (1987) define values as a belief about some desirable end-­‐state that transcends specific situations and guides selection of behavior. Solomon et al. (2006) point out how this is important to consumption, as it is believed that what products and services we choose to buy, are purchased to help the consumer attain a goal related to his or her specific values. According to Solomon (2006), values are such broad concepts that they are more likely to affect consumption patterns, rather than specific brand preferences. Therefore some researchers have differentiated between categories of values such as cultural values, consumptions-­‐specific values, and product-­‐specific values (Vinson et al. 1977, Watson et al. 2002). However, as pointed out by Solomon (2006), this might stretch the definition of values as such, since values are usually seen as a very general in the social psychological hierarchy. However, although it is difficult to apply the theory of values to specific brand preferences, it is very well suited as a perspective when investigating consumption patterns like collaborative consumption. Consumers’ motivations are also influenced by society’s norms. As already mentioned, metamotivations can lead people to misrepresent their motivations and those of their opponents, either due to society’s norms, or to gain ‘followers’. Elster distinguishes between moral, social and quasi-­‐moral norms. Moral norms are e.g. the norm to help others in distress, the norm of equal sharing, and the norm of ‘everyday Kantianism’ (do what would be best if everyone did the same) (Elster 2007), and are thus related to the concept of altruism. Social norms include norms of etiquette, norms of revenge, and norms regulating the use of money, while quasi-­‐moral norms include the norm of reciprocity and the norm of conditional cooperation (ibid.). Both social norms and quasi-­‐moral norms are triggered by the presence or behavior of other people, and are therefore conditional. Elster argues that social norms are triggered “when other people can observe what the agent is doing, and quasi-­‐moral norms when the agent can observe what other people are doing” (Elster 2007: 104). Moral norms, on the other hand, are unconditional, i.e. the norm itself does not refer to what others do, although it may be conditioned indirectly, as consequences are taken into account. Elster provides the following example: “If I have a utility-­‐based philosophy of charity, how much good I can do (and hence how much I will give) depends on how much others are giving. The norm itself however, makes no reference to other donors, only to the recipients” (Elster 2007: 104). Furthermore, moral norms are proactive, while quasi-­‐moral norms are only reactive. This means that quasi-­‐moral norms can function as feedback mechanisms, where the context influences the individual 53 decision-­‐making process. Quasi-­‐moral norms can be powerful in inducing altruistic behavior, but Elster (2007) suggests they only mimic altruism, because of the condition building on reciprocity. Furthermore, Elster (2007) suggests that operations of genuinely altruistic motives can be identified when the two following conditions are fulfilled: (1) the action benefitting others is proactive, not reactive, and (2) it is anonymous, i.e. neither the beneficiary nor third parties know the identity of the benevolent actor. Another mechanism influencing human decision-­‐making is related to the consumer’s concerns about fairness and utility of consequences. According to Elster (2007) people select between a fairness-­‐based and a utility-­‐based philosophy of charity when trying to justify low donations. Here I am assuming that a parallel can be drawn between donations and behavior based on altruistic motivations in collaborative consumption. When facing needs and problems related to donations and altruistic behavior, “people spontaneously and unconsciously gravitate toward a combination of causal theory and normative conception that can justify behavior in line with their self-­‐interest” (Elster 2007: 100-­‐101). For instance, if an individual prefers not to donate to charity, she can adopt a utility-­‐based philosophy if others donate much (the utility of her donation has a decreasing marginal utility to the recipient). Oppositely, if others donate little, she will adopt a fairness-­‐based philosophy (i.e. fairness among donators). Elster also suggests that the same mechanism can apply in collective behavior situations, i.e. some individuals may drop out as a movement grow, because they see the value of their participation as diminishing, while others may join in due to solidarity or a wish to contribute to the cause when ‘all others’ do so. Social Cognitive Theory In order to construct a framework where behavior itself is an explanatory factor, and not merely a result of other contributing factors, such as values, norms and situational conditions, Phipps et al. (2013) created a model built on social cognitive theory (SCT) and reciprocal determinism. SCT suggests that “human functioning is explained in terms of a model of triadic reciprocality in which behavior, cognitive and other personal factors, and environmental events all operate as interacting determinants of each other” (Bandura 1986: 18). The key contribution of SCT is exactly that of reciprocal determinism, which describes how past behavior can “influence both personal and environmental factors and, in turn, affect future behaviors” (Phipps et al. 2013a: 1228). The merging of linear motivational and behavioral models model with social cognitive theory (SCT) and reciprocal determinism provides an expanded model with feedback loops, 54 demonstrating how behavior can actually be a contributing factor to the formation of attitudes, and not only a product of values and attitudes (Phipps et al. 2013b). Furthermore, reciprocal determinism allows us to examine the relationship between personal agency and social structure (Phipps et al. 2013b). Contributions to the Integrated Model While the general opinion is dominated by positive attitudes towards sustainable consumption and this form of consumption is seen as good, important and necessary (Wimberly 2009), only for a small number of consumers do these attitudes translate into sustainable consumption behavior (Prothero et al. 2011). The previous section has helped shed light on psychological mechanisms that bear the potential of explaining collaborative consumption behavior. The implications of adding social cognitive theory (SCT) and reciprocal determinism to the theoretical framework are important, as this merging of the linear motivational and behavioral models and SCT provides an expanded model with feedback loops, that can explain how existing behavior influences variables that have typically been considered to be independent variables in models of human behavior. This means that SCT and reciprocal determinism’ contribution to the integrated model is that of circularity, i.e. these theories allow for the model to be circular, with feedback loops going from behavior and back to the variables that influence behavior. The mechanisms resolving motivational conflict contribute to the model by suggesting which generative mechanisms are relevant to the adoption of collaborative consumption, while the influence of identity, values and norms on consumer behavior demonstrates the complexity of adoption behavior. Whereas identity is mostly embedded in the individual, it still has connections to the environment through the concept of collective identity. Based on the assumption that externally imposed norms and values can be internalized, norms and values offer this same complexity. Main Contributions and Findings The main purpose of this theoretical review has been to identify factors that influence the diffusion of collaborative consumption. The theoretical analysis reveals that although there exist several models for adoption, diffusion, network formation and decision-­‐making, there is not 55 much literature where these theories are combined in a holistic manner. This is needed in order to explain how the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption is enabled (and hindered) at the micro (individual) and macro (network/community/society) level. This chapter has built on the propositions proposed on the basis of the results of the literature review, and a conclusion on contributions and findings should include a comparison with these propositions. Proposition 1: Economic, altruistic and social motivations mediate the formation of attitudes and use intentions toward collaborative consumption. Both economic and social motivations are mentioned as important mediators of behavior by several of the theories. For instance, Rogers (2003) emphasize the importance of motivations in adoption, and economic and social (prestige) motivations in particular. Furthermore, he proposes that a better understanding of the motivations to adopt can lead to a better understanding of re-­‐invention and non-­‐adoption. Moreover, Elster also confirms that motivations mediate human behavior. Proposition 2: Mechanisms relevant to social movements (i.e. transformative movements) are also relevant in the diffusion of collaborative consumption While the perspective of social movements theory did not directly confirm this proposition, I still argue that these theories provide a useful perspective for the analysis of the diffusion of collaborative consumption. Most importantly, they contribute with better methods for analyzing contextual factors that might influence the diffusion process. Proposition 3: Technological and social networks mediate the diffusion of collaborative consumption 56 Both interessement theory and other network theories emphasize the importance of social networks and technological entities in mediating interactions between actors, thus this proposition is still valid. In sum, the theoretical perspectives presented in this chapter reveal that the chosen theories both complement and contrast each other, each suggesting variables that influence the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption. In total, they provide a comprehensive set of variables for the integrated model presented in the following section. Three-­‐Level Model of Diffusion Based on the theoretical review and analysis in the previous chapter, a new set of propositions is defined. These propositions are based on assumptions of the theories reviewed in the previous chapter, and their applicability in an integrated model for the diffusion of collaborative consumption. Propositions: Consumers’ attitudes and use intentions toward collaborative consumption are mediated by motivations. Motivations are formed by a set of psychological and situational variables. The adoption of collaborative consumption is influenced by consumers’ attitudes and use intentions, and other psychological and situational variables, in addition to the inherent properties of the innovation. The adoption of collaborative consumption is mediated by both individual and social variables. Adoption behavior also influences the formation of attitudes and use intentions, through a feedback mechanism. Adoption behavior is one of several variables influencing the diffusion of collaborative consumption. A set of psychological, behavioral, and situational variables influences the diffusion of collaborative consumption. 57 Diffusion is mediated by technology and network mechanisms. Diffusion influences both the formation of attitudes and use intentions, and adoption, through feedback mechanisms. These propositions help define the structure of the integrated model. Below they are synthesized to provide a description of the structure of the model: I.
The Formation of Attitudes and Use Intentions The first level of the model explains the formation of attitudes and use intentions by accounting for psychological and situational variables influencing motivations, which are assumed to mediate consumers’ attitudes and use intentions. II.
The Individual Adoption Process The second level of the model explains the individual adoption process by accounting for psychological and situational factors relevant to this process, in addition to the inherent properties of the innovation described in Rogers’ (2003) theory. III.
The Diffusion Process The third level of the model explains diffusion by accounting for psychological and situational factors relevant to this process, in addition to the behavioral factors (i.e. adoption and communication) described in Rogers’ (2003) theory. 58 59 Adoptionbehavior
Situational- Norms
Perceived-self< regarding:-Economic,self<interest-andefficacy
Intrinsic-values regarding:-altruistic,social-(reciprocitymechanisms)
Psychological- Materialism
Situational- Diffusion
Socio<economicEnvironment/- characteristics
Psychological- Use-intentions
Mediating)variables Dependent)variables
Mediating)variables Dependent)variables
Environment/- StructuralSituational- conduciveness
Mediating)variables Dependent)variables
This section will provide a brief explanation of the model, and how factors in it condition the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption, either directly, or through feedback loops. In contrast to the innovation-­‐decision process and its five stages, this model consists of only three stages. Or rather, they can be interpreted as levels, with their respective stages that all act interdependently. Thus, the model consists of three levels, each with three stages.. Rogers (2003) argue that stages in a process are social constructs, and a means of simplifying a complex reality. This means that to empirically prove that these stages exist, represents a challenge. However, he underlines how stages can provide a basis for understanding human behavior in relation to innovations (Rogers 2003). For an even fuller illustration of actual diffusion, it could be useful to see the second level – adoption – as a sequential process. This is especially relevant in the case of collaborative consumption, which is a complex concept to adopt. Most likely, it is not reasonable to assume that a consumer that has no experience with sharing and collaboration platforms will adopt collaboration as a consumption mode whenever it is available. Rather, consumers will most likely start in the small, trying out parts of what the collaborative economy has to offer, before adopting collaborative consumption as the natural mode of consumption. Seeing the third level – diffusion – as encompassing the two others might also be a better illustration of the complexity of the relations between individual decision-­‐making and the macro environment. However, for the sake of easy overview, the levels are presented as they would be in a linear model, but with feedback loops. Social cognitive theory and the related triadic reciprocity provide grounds for the choice of seeing diffusion as a three-­‐level process. As mentioned, SCT explains a triadic reciprocal relationship between behavior, cognitive and other personal factors and the environment. The integrated model is built around this principle, with the cognitive and personal factors being the factors in the formation of attitudes and use intentions. The behavior described in SCT is the adoption behavior in the second level of the integrated model. And finally, the environment in SCT is all the factors influencing the diffusion of collaborative consumption. In the integrated model the triadic reciprocality is illustrated by the green arrows, which show how the environment (diffusion) and behavior (adoption behavior) feeds back into the cognitive level (the formation of attitudes and use intentions). Thus, the integrated model, with the contributions of SCT and triadic reciprocality explains how past behavior can influence both personal and environmental factors, thereby also affecting future behaviors. According to Roger’s innovation-­‐decision model conditions include the consumer’s previous practice, felt needs and problems, innovativeness and norms of the social system. Smelser 60 (1963) mentions structural conduciveness and strain as conditions necessary for collective behavior. Other conditions come in the form of social change, such as e.g. population mobility, technological innovation and mass communication (Porta, Diani 2006). Thus, these provide a suitable starting point for discussing the possible conditions for the mechanisms. These conditions do not only create a contextual backdrop for the individual mechanisms, they are also the origin of the feedback loops that demonstrate how external factors condition individual decision-­‐making mechanisms. The integrated model’s feedback loops build on the contribution made by Phipps et al. (2013), i.e. the inclusion of social cognitive theory and reciprocal determinism. This section will elaborate on different conditions that have the potential of influencing the outcome of the identified mechanisms. These conditions are previous practice, needs and problems, innovativeness, norms, structural conduciveness and strain, and social change. Previous practice In the case of the consumer’s previous practice, it has been shown that increased knowledge of the innovation increases the likelihood of innovation adoption (Huizingh, Brand 2009). There are two particular practices that are likely to condition the motivational mechanisms by increasing the consumer’s knowledge of aspects of collaborative consumption: (1) previous practice of sustainable consumer choices motivated by the sustainability-­‐related motives; and (2) previous practice of entrepreneurial activities or frugal consumption based on economic motivations. Furthermore, it may be fruitful to differentiate between whether precious practice has resulted in factual knowledge or action-­‐related knowledge. While factual knowledge “refers to knowledge about definitions and causes/consequences of environmental problems (e.g., what is the greenhouse effect?)”, action-­‐related knowledge refers to “information about possible actions (e.g., which human behaviors are related to the greenhouse effect)” (Tanner et al. 2003: 886). Of the two types of knowledge, action-­‐related knowledge is more likely to affect behavior. The other way around, it also seems plausible that action-­‐related knowledge will be more affected by feedback loops from previous behavior and the environment, than would factual knowledge. Needs and problems By offering both economic, social and altruistic value to the consumers, collaborative consumption have the potential of meeting quite different needs and answering different problems for different consumers. Thus, it is a valid assumption to assume that the consumer’s felt needs and problems will condition the mechanisms in quite different ways, depending on 61 the type of need that is felt. For instance, if the consumer is mainly driven by altruistic motivation, when facing needs and problems, it seems more likely that her behavior will be determined by the spillover effect. On the other hand, the behavior of a consumer that is motivated mainly by utilitarian or economic motivation might be more likely to be determined by the licensing effect – choosing a less collaborative (i.e. sustainable) option on the basis of having opted for a collaborative (i.e. sustainable) alternative at an earlier point in time. If the consumers was driven by altruistic motivations, there would be no such trade-­‐off. Here, another condition comes into play and that is the consumer’s philosophy of charity, i.e. whether the consumers is more concerned with fairness among donors, or the total utilitarian value of the donations. Innovativeness Innovativeness is another important condition in the process of adoption. With regard to which mechanisms it can induce, one suggestion would be that it might influence metamotivations. For instance, one could assume that individuals with a high degree of innovativeness will have a metamotivation for adopting innovations at a higher rate than less innovative individuals when facing the same objective value proposition. In the integrated model innovativeness is assumed to be part of the consumer’s personality. As a side note, Goldsmith (2012) suggests that an important next step for innovation theorists must be to agree on a standard of ‘innovativeness’. As pointed out by Tellis and Yin (2011), at least three different definitions are prominent in the literature: innovativeness as a ‘predisposition or propensity to buy or adopt new products’, innovativeness as ‘a willingness to change’, and innovativeness as ‘a preference of new and different experiences’. Thus, an interpretation of a consumer’s innovativeness’ effect on the adoption process depends on the definition of innovativeness. The conditioning effect of a consumer’s innovativeness may depend on the definitions chosen. For instance, the ‘predisposition or propensity to buy or adopt new products’ seems to be linked to prestige or hedonism, while ‘a preference of new and different experiences’ may imply less self-­‐regarding values. Norms of the social system The integrated model includes norms as a situational or external independent variable influencing attitudes and use intentions through motivations. The choice to see norms as an 62 external variable may be debated, as they can be internalized by the adopter. This happens when norms go from being perceived as extrinsically motivated, to being experienced as intrinsically motivated (Vargas 2013). However, based on the fact that norms start out as being extrinsically motivated, the classification choice made in the integrated model is justified. Following Elster’s (2007) definitions of moral, social and quasi-­‐moral norms, it seems that quasi-­‐moral norms of reciprocity and conditional cooperation is most relevant to the actual social interactions and transactions in collaborative consumption. However, moral norms, including the norm to help others in distress, the norm of equal sharing, and the norm of ‘everyday Kantianism’ (do what would be best if everyone did the same) are also highly relevant. Structural conduciveness and strain Smelser’s (1963) value-­‐added theory (or social strain theory) does not only contribute with contextual factors enabling social behavior, it also explains how the temporal order is a significant factor. While temporality is not illustrated in the integrated model, structural conduciveness and strain are included as factors in the diffusion process. Additionally, the model also includes several other factors that contribute to or mediate structural conduciveness. For instance, spatial proximity is one of the most common examples of structural conduciveness. Technology is one of the variables in the integrated model that to some degree alleviates the need for spatial proximity, because consumers now gather and communicate online. Structural strain is usually exemplified as injustice or inequality. In the case of collaborative consumption, the strain is more likely to emerge as a form of discontent with consumption the way we are used to understanding it, and especially overconsumption. Social change (population mobility, technological innovations and mass communication) Social change is strongly related to structural conduciveness and strain. In the integrated model social change is most likely to be represented in the variables of civic virtue, tension, and structural conduciveness and strain. Civic virtues have many similarities with norms, and thus, their implications for the structure of the model are similar to those of norms. 63 Chapter ) -­‐ D iscussion The aim of this chapter is to provide a discussion of the analysis and model provided in the previous chapter. This chapter will provide a discussion of the particularities of collaborative consumption. Furthermore, this chapter will evaluate how the integrated model helps answer the research question. Finally, this chapter will review and discuss the approach used to construct this model. The Theoretical Contribution of the Integrated Model The general focus of this thesis has been that of the individual, and the objective has been to provide a theoretical basis for further research on the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption. The method of investigation has been that of methodological individualism, i.e. the focal point of the research has been to uncover the dynamics of individual mechanisms that can explain the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption. In order to really understand collaborative consumption, this section will be made up of a discussion of the particularities of this new form of consumption. Finally, an elaboration of feedback loops from the environment will be included in order to discuss how the context functions as a backdrop and a mediating factor in the individual decision-­‐making process. What Makes Collaborative Consumption Special? Collaborative consumption is consumption where consumer needs are met in a novel manner. Actually, some of these needs have been met through collaboration and sharing all through human history, what is new is the form it is taking today, with capitalistic business platforms mediating the collaboration, and the scale, where consumers can collaborate with other consumers that they do not know, and that this is happening to such an extant that we can begin talking about a new consumption paradigm. Collaborative consumption seems to distinguish itself from the traditional form of consumption by offering value both to the consumers driven by altruistic motives and those driven by more-­‐self-­‐oriented motivations, such as purely 64 economic or utilitarian motivations. This previous chapter identified and described factors crucial to the diffusion of collaborative consumption. A central question then, is: what makes the diffusion of collaborative consumption special, i.e. how is an understanding of this concept relevant to researchers and managers today? In this section I will elaborate more on how this thesis contributes with knowledge and understanding of the specific characteristics of collaborative consumption, which distinguishes it from the traditional consumption perspective. Though research on traditional consumer behavior to some extent includes social relations and influences, through opinion leaders and influencers, it lacks a proper conceptualization of the social interactions that seem to add value to the consumption experience, and also mediate market transactions at a peer-­‐to-­‐peer basis. Collaborative consumption distinguishes itself from traditional consumption by offering not only more resource-­‐efficient consumption activities, but also added value from the social interactions, which are usually more prevalent in transactions of collaborative consumption than the ones encountered in traditional consumption activities, where social interactions with e.g. sales personnel, do not seem to offer the same value. Furthermore, to some consumers it is assumed that the altruistic value is an important factor. In fact, a UCLA poll from 2012 revealed that “over 75 per cent of incoming freshmen believe it is ‘essential or very important’ to help other in difficulty, the highest figure in 36 years” (Gorenflo 2014). This statement is not necessarily founded in altruism, but it gives an indication that Generation Y, as it has come to be known, is a generation of conscientious consumers. Furthermore, it seems plausible to assume that moral norms in the form of ‘everyday Kantianism’ (do what would be best if everyone did the same) would be more prevalent in collaborative consumption than in the traditional form of consumption. The complex system of individual decision-­‐making and cooperative activities taking place in collaborative consumption, together with the reported added value from the social interactions and altruism, suggests that although the theoretical contribution of understanding the mechanisms at an individual level are the focal point, the importance of feedback loops from the environment should not be ignored, as these form a backdrop against which the individual mechanisms can be analyzed. 65 Has the Research Question Been Answered? While the theoretical analysis has not provided definite answers to the research question, some well-­‐founded suggestions have been provided in the integrated model. These suggestions and their theoretical foundation have already been thoroughly discussed in chapter three, and therefore, this section will only briefly summarize how the findings provide a tentative answer to the research question. Which factors influence the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption? Mediating factors in the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption: Through the theoretical analysis, the following factors have been identified and suggested as mediating factors in the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption: adaptation, technology, networks, interaction, and motivations. As illustrated in the integrated model these variables mediate different parts of the process, and therefore influence different variables in the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption. Thus it should be emphasized, again, that the integrated model is a suggestion for how different factors relate to the diffusion of collaborative consumption. As such the assumptions on which this model has been constructed should be investigated further, in order to confirm or reject these assumptions. Underlying mechanisms of individual motivation and decision-­‐making: The underlying mechanisms that have been identified through the theoretical analysis are metamotivations, cognitive dissonance theory, overjustification effect, spillover, and licensing. Structural factors influencing the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption: In the previous section several factors that influence the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption were listed. These include consumers’ previous practice and felt needs and problems, the consumers’ innovativeness, norms, structural conduciveness and strain and social change. However, it can be discussed whether these factors are truly structural, or if they are merely external factors, i.e. not directly psychological. However, they are all considered to be conditioning the process of adoption and diffusion. It may be that more focus should be paid to these structural factors in order to better facilitate adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption. Although this thesis and the integrated model leans upon Elster’s philosophy of mechanisms as explanations, it does not mean that conditioning factors should be ignored. In fact, since the mechanisms are often irrational, and therefore difficult to change, efforts to influence the adoption and diffusion process should be focused on the conditioning and structural factors. 66 Evaluation of the Model The aim of this thesis is not to investigate the stages of adoption and diffusion per se. Rather, the aim has been to provide some suggestions for how the adoption and diffusion process can be illustrated as going through different stages. However, I do not claim the stages defined in the integrated model are the only way to present these processes. For the purpose of this thesis, the stages are used as a tool to describe and give some form of structure to the processes. Thus, the stages in the integrated model are assumed to, to some degree, overlap. For instance, the division between the formation of attitudes and use intentions, and the adoption process can be debated. Suggestions for further testing of the model will be presented in chapter 5. The Choice of Approach The approach of this thesis has been to investigate mediating factors in the adoption and diffusion process of collaborative consumption through a critical realist approach – searching for mechanisms in the individual decision-­‐making process. The critical realist approach was chosen based on its claim that there exists an independent world (reality) outside of our perceptions, and that we perceive only some aspects of this world. That is, this thesis has been based on the search of intransitive objects, i.e. “real things and structures, mechanisms and processes, events and possibilities of the world; and for the most part they are quite independent of us” (Bhaskar 1975: 22). Furthermore, the critical realist approach was chosen based on its distinction between the consequences of a mechanism and the mechanism itself. Finally, the choice of approach was based on its premise of these mechanisms providing explanation for individual behavior. Within the perspective of critical realism, Elster (2007) writes of ‘causal chains’. The three levels of the integrated model provide sequences of potential causal chains. However, more research is needed before it can be determined whether these are actual causal chains. Thus, through the integrated model this thesis has provided a framework for the further exploration of the causal chains of adoption and diffusion of collaborative action. Though not specifically chosen as a theoretical approach, the theory of the physics of institutions, which was reviewed in the theoretical analysis, offers some useful insight on 67 potential mechanisms external to the individual. This theory explains how laws of physics might be able to explain collective behavior, and is based on the premise that individual behavior cannot always be used to predict and explain collective behavior. The philosophy of critical realism and the search for mechanisms were applied to several theoretical fields, from adoption and diffusion, to value-­‐creation, networks, and motivation theory. The lens of critical realism has allowed for the separation of consequences and the actual mechanisms that can explain collaborative consumption and the adoption and diffusion of this particular kind of consumption. In sum, the philosophical approach of this thesis has proven very useful in explaining the concept of diffusion and adoption, and not least, the concept of collaborative consumption. Though focus has been held on the level of individual behavior and mechanisms, other factors have been accounted for through the inclusion of feedback loops and conditions. The approach of constructing an integrated model, based on a theoretical analysis has provided a thorough analysis and explanation of the relevant concepts. Furthermore, analyzing the different theories through the perspective of critical realism has provided common grounds for opposing theories, e.g. Rogers’ diffusion theory and interessement theory. This has allowed for the construction of a model that utilizes arguments and statements from different perspectives, contributing to the attempt of creating a holistic platform for the explanation of adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption. 68 Chapter ' – Implications and C onclusion Implications for theory, practice and further research The results of this thesis prescribe implications in at least three different areas. A discussion of these potential implications will be presented in this chapter. First, the theoretical contributions made in this thesis provide some kind of direction for further theoretical and empirical research. Second, the results of the analysis will be used to predict possible practical implications. Third, managerial implications will be suggested. Finally, the chapter, and the thesis, will be summarized with a short conclusion. Theoretical Implications and Further Research There are several theoretical implications of this thesis. As the integrated model includes theories and assumptions lent from different fields, more thorough research is needed in order to validate the concepts used, and the overall structure of the model. This should be done by looking at the different levels of the model, and empirically testing the suggested relations of the model. In broad terms, the theoretical areas that have been developed in this thesis, and would still benefit from further research, are the understanding of diffusion (and with it adoption), the understanding of collaborative consumption as an innovation to be adopted, the understanding the motivations and underlying mechanisms of the consumer decision-­‐making process, and the understanding of the contextual factors influencing the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption. First, although this thesis has made suggestions as to which mechanisms are prevalent in the process of adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption, more research is needed on how external factors condition these mechanisms through feedback loops from the context. Goldsmith (2012) suggests that more effort should be put into a better integration of the 69 individual, group, and organizational level of adoption, and the study of diffusion. While the former concerns itself with a micro perspective of decision-­‐making, it results in the latter, which concerns itself with a macro perspective of how innovations spread through social systems (Goldsmith 2012). Though the theoretical analysis of this thesis, and its integrated model is an attempt at integrating these theories, further theoretical research would benefit the fields of adoption and diffusion in general, and innovating agencies in particular, e.g. change agents in the form of commercial collaborative platforms. Second, there is still much theoretical work to be done within the area of understanding the inherent properties of collaborative consumption and collaborative behavior. An obvious extension to this research would be to investigate collaborative consumption by means of game theory – in order to provide explanations for how the actual collaboration of collaborative consumption takes place. Another direction in which research would contribute with a better understanding of collaborative consumption will most likely require a redefinition of our frame of understanding for typical economic and consumption-­‐related concepts. Cova et al. (2011) confirm that the need for a redefinition of economic concepts such as value, ownership, consumption, and production in the new ‘collaborative capitalism’, as they call it, is a theoretical challenge. Furthermore, Borzaga et al. (2011) argue that there is a need for economic pluralism when studying collaboration organizations and activities, and they suggest that the orthodox approaches to economics, i.e. the neoclassical and the new-­‐institutionalist, should be complemented, combined and corrected with newer theoretical approaches such as behavioral economics and the evolutionary theory. One argument for this more multifaceted approach is that the neoclassical approach reduces all actors other than the market and the state, e.g. communities, cooperatives and other social enterprises, to potential sources for inefficiencies in the economic system (Borzaga et al. 2011). In a collaborative consumption perspective, it is interesting to see this juxtaposition of market and community, and how a more holistic approach can provide a better theoretical backdrop for further research. This adds argument to the use of newer economic approaches such as behavioral economic, which are better suited for the study of social and collaborative enterprises as they enable the inclusion of behavioral propensities and organizational models that to date have not been dedicated much research, in economic analysis. This also includes a valorization of these behavioral propensities and organizational models (Borzaga et al. 2011). Finally, some research should be devoted to investigating the dynamics of supply and demand in the collaborative economy. Do consumers now in reality occupy the role of both consumer and supplier, or is this bilateral role reserved for only some individuals of the collaborative economy, while the majority still mainly consumes, rather than 70 contribute to the network of collaboration? Third, the general field of motivations to adopt should be further developed, as suggested by Rogers (2003). Although several theorists have contributed to the field (e.g. Wunderlich et al. 2013), not much research has moved beyond the dichotomy of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation. As indicated by the literature review and the theoretical analysis, this area offer great explanatory promise in the case of collaborative consumption. While some claim that collaborative consumption’s most powerful value proposition lies in the economics that it is offering consumers, and that this is what will drive the development of the collaborative economy20,21, others challenge this view, and believe that the social motivation is more important than the economic ones22. The importance of the experience of socially interacting with other humans is continually emphasized by actors in the collaborative economy, and unlike personnel at traditional businesses, e.g. taxi drivers and hotel concierges, peers are not perceived as agents representing a commercial business23, thus the consumer experience in the collaborative economy is given an extra social dimension. Another interesting trajectory for further research within motivational theory and adoption is that of how motivations potentially change over time, as the consumer learns more about the innovation. One could imagine a learning process where intrinsic motivation (e.g. altruism) makes a consumer seek more information about collaborative consumption. As the consumer is learning more about the concept, extrinsic motivation (e.g. gain-­‐seeking) becomes more prevalent, and could lead to use intentions (intention to adopt the concept of collaborative consumption). Alternatively, the learning process could be reversed: extrinsic motivation leads the consumer to seek more information about collaborative consumption, and then when she learns more about the concept, intrinsic motivation becomes more influential. Though this latter process does not correspond with the results of Hamari and Ukkonen (2013) discussed in the literature review, nor with the expected outcome of the overjustification effect, the possibility should not be excluded without further research. This can be further studied by longitudinal studies of the motivations to participate in collaborative consumption. Another discussion that is relevant to the field of collaborative consumption is that of trust and its importance in the collaborative economy. While some describe trust as the real innovation of the Collaborative Economy24, implicitly defining it as an intrinsic motivation, others see trust, or lack thereof, as an important challenge25. Businesses built around collaboration and sharing are using trust proxies to overcome the potential hurdle this represents, and with centralized 71 systems to protect the interests of the consumers, such as systems for reviews and quality assessment, the collaborative consumers’ trust are backed by quality assessment and insurance systems. However, this is merely anecdotal evidence. The theoretical implications of trust and its influence on motivations to adopt collaborative consumption has not been investigated. Fourth, the contextual factors such as felt needs and problems, norms, structural conduciveness and strain and social change should be further researched in order to uncover more knowledge about how these factors condition the individual mechanisms in the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption. Although the critics of Elster’s mechanisms and their explanatory value are incorrect in their assumptions that his methodological individualism does not account for context and conditions, further research is needed on how external factors influence the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption. As already mentioned, this is particularly relevant in the research of the adoption of transformative services, since these services entail societal benefits, as opposed to conventional services, which mainly involve benefits to the individual. It therefore seems likely to assume that consumers perceptions of the context might be more important to consumer decisions made in relation to collaborative consumption, relative to considerations made in traditional consumption. These four areas should be investigated more thoroughly, first theoretically, and then they should be empirically tested. However, empirics may provide curious patterns without offering an explanation, e.g. they can demonstrate covariance and correlation, but not causality. Elster (2007) suggests that to properly address such explanatory puzzles, research should identify explanations that support the theory, and not the other way around. Thus, the explanatory puzzles that cannot be explained by the empirics should ideally be addressed by what is often called the hypothetico-­‐deductive method, described in the five-­‐step sequence listed below. 1. Choose the theory – a set of interrelated causal propositions – that holds out the greatest promise of a successful explanation. 2. Specify a hypothesis that applies the theory to the puzzle, in the sense that the explanandum follows logically from the hypothesis. 3. Identify or imagine plausible accounts that might provide alternative explanations, also in the sense that the explanandum follows logically from each of them. 4. For each of these rival accounts, refute it by pointing to additional testable implications that are in fact not observed. 5. Strengthen the proposed hypothesis by showing that it has additional testable implications, preferably of ‘‘novel facts,’’ that are in fact observed. (: 17-­‐18) 72 In practice, however, steps (1), (2), and (3) often occur in a different order (Elster 2007). Furthermore, Elster (2007) pose two criteria for explanations to be credible: (1) it must refute the most plausible alternatives; and (2) it must generate novel facts (Elster 2007). More importantly, he claims that “[i]n the long run, it is the theory that is supported by the successful explanations it generates, not the other way around” (Elster 2007: 20). Another claim he makes is that mechanisms are what matters for explanatory purposes, while prediction, which is made possible by other methods, e.g. statistical and longitudinal studies, offers only control (Elster 2007). Another suggestion for further research is to investigate further the stages of the integrated model. The research of whether these stages do exist will require a specific type of “data gathering and analysis that seeks to determine the sequence of a set of events over time” (Rogers 2003: 455). This type of research is usually conducted using qualitative methods, in order to gain insight and understanding of human behavior (Rogers 2003), and would be a logical next step for researchers wanting to test this part of the construction of the model. However, most diffusion research (and most social science research) is centered around measuring variables by assigning numerical values to behaviors (Rogers 2003). This type of research, variance research, consists of “highly structured quantitative gathering and analysis of cross-­‐sectional data, such as from one-­‐shot surveys of the diffusion and adoption of an innovation” (Rogers 2003: 456). The purpose of this type of research is to determine covariance and correlations between the variables in the model, but not their order. However, while this type of research is appropriate for investigating e.g. variables related to innovativeness, it cannot be used to investigate the order of the overall process. Thus is due to the data points used in variance analysis represent only one point in time, and thus the process dimension of the data cannot be measured (Rogers 2003). The exception is to gather data by asking individuals to recall, leaving room for the recall bias. In order to gather data to understand the causes and sequences of events over time, a more dynamic perspective is needed, and data-­‐gathering methods for process research focus more on qualitative data (Rogers 2003). Rogers suggests that “[r]esearch on a topic such as the innovation-­‐decision process should be quite different from the variance research that has predominated in the diffusion field” (Rogers 2003: 472). Finally, although research on the stages of the adoption and diffusion processes is scarce, there are several studies that tentatively support the notion of stages in the innovation-­‐decision process (Rogers 2003). Finally, some implications for the field of consumption studies should be mentioned. McDonald et al. (2012) suggest that “in order to understand an individual act of consumption, it has to be looked at as part of a stream of purchase and non-­‐purchase decisions” (: 460). This is related to 73 the level of consciousness in the consumer decision-­‐making process. Foxall (2010) suggests describing consumer behavior as a continuum from routine everyday purchases to compulsive and addictive consumption (Goldsmith 2012). This is supported by the findings of Deci and Ryan (1985) who found that individuals perceive engagement in a behavior as occurring along a continuum, ranging from self-­‐determined to controlled forms of behavior (Wunderlich et al. 2013). Thus, this trajectory offers opportunities for further research with regards to the internalization of norms and their impact on consumer heuristics. Practical Implications This thesis also suggest some practical implications, for consumers and for society overall. Given that the assumption of the theoretical analysis and the integrated model are correct, some straightforward practical implications can be suggested. People First and foremost the proposed feedback loops in the model suggest that the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption may experience an exponential growth. Not only will the behavior of innovators and early adopters influence the behavior of later adopters, but one individual’s behavior will also ‘feed back’ into that same individual’s later behavior. Collaborative consumption differs from traditional consumption in that it offers a value proposition to match consumer’s utilitarian as well as altruistic motivations. This might imply that consumers can begin to integrate consumption in their lives as more than just a way to meet their needs and solve their problems. Rather, collaborative consumption offers the possibility for consumers to test their abilities as micropreneurs, while also contributing to transformative change of society. Furthermore, it may be a way for consumers to see consumption as an integral part of their life values. McGregor (2014) suggests that “a construct is needed to help people view consumption as a journey, a complex, lifelong process, rather than a series of discrete, separate, cumulative events (shopping trips)” (McGregor 2014: 33). This construct may be collaborative consumption. Moreover, she offers the conceptual innovation of reframing consumption as unfolding along a life path, and consumers as pathfinders. This new perception of consumers and consumption involves seeing consumption as “a lifelong journey, a way to ‘live life on purpose,’ with intention, passion, conviction and simplicity” (ibid.). 74 Society Also at societal level there will be implications as collaborative consumption takes over for more traditional consumption. First, the sharing, reuse and reallocation of idle resources implies that collaborative consumption has the potential of transforming the global economy. When discussing collaborative consumption and social networks, smart grids and real-­‐time technologies it is difficult to distinguish what is driving what. While many of the collaborative business platforms today would not be possible without these innovations, the growth of the collaborative economy also stimulate the development of these technologies. The most significant benefits of the collaborative economy is increased use efficiency, reduced waste, the development of better products (i.e. products with lifecycles made for reuse and repurposing), and a possibility of “mopping up the surplus created by over-­‐production and –consumption” (Botsman, Rogers 2011: xvi). The potential impact of the collaborative economy is indicated by a 2012 UC Berkeley survey of 6,281 North-­‐American car sharing members, which showed that one car-­‐sharing vehicle replaces 9-­‐13 owned cars (Gorenflo 2013). Though some may argue that collaborative consumption is based on necessity rather than true changes in consumer values and desires, claiming that it only has a place in the contemporary consumptionscape due to financial strain after the economic downturn since 2008, several arguments refute this. First, signs of the habits of typical of collaborative consumption began to stick before the financial collapse of 2008 (Botsman, Rogers 2010). Furthermore, consumers’ motivations seem to be more complex than those of pure cost-­‐savings. Thus, it seems that although the financial crisis certainly boosted collaborative consumption, the crisis alone cannot explain this change. Furthermore, aside from meeting new and changing consumer needs, the networks and communities that collaborative consumption is built around bring the world closer together. Not least, does collaborative consumption offer great promise for the revival of communities. Governments The theoretical analysis and the integrated model suggest that contextual conditions play an integral role in shaping consumer behavior. Thus, there are implications for how governments should react to this paradigm shift. 75 Several collaborative platforms are now starting to meet resistance from governments and incumbent business platforms around the world. Big cities such as New York and San Francisco have been forced to face tax and regulatory conundrums related to the collaborative economy, and currently 14 American states have issued warnings about insurance risks associated with rideshare activities 26. Moreover, traditional businesses are starting to feel threatened by the growing market shares of collaboration platform such as Airbnb and Uber. This has lead to complaints about collaborative platforms circumventing permit laws, regulations, and insurance rules. These issues related to taxation and regulations imply that there are important structural hurdles that must be overcome in order for the collaborative economy to continue its diffusion. Today, some efforts are being made by both authorities and collaborative businesses to meet each other half-­‐way. For instance, the city of Portland is moving to ease its restrictions and regulations concerning short-­‐term rentals such as those offered through Airbnb. Airnbnb on the other hand, urges its users to comply with local regulations and lease contracts. Furthermore, the company have led lengthy negotiations with city authorities, e.g. in Amsterdam – where the parts now have agreed that collaborative hospitality services do have their place in the Amsterdam hospitality market27. However, the city of Amsterdam has also updated their regulations, and it suggests that Airbnb help their users comply with tax legislation by sending them a tourist tax registration form at the end of the year. To sum up, it seems that the reason collaborative economy is facing structural challenges today are based on the transformative and disruptive properties of this form of consumption. Incumbents and traditional businesses have always resisted change, but this does not mean that the right way to go is to ban the result of technological development. Managerial Implications Although the main aim of this thesis and the integrated model are to provide a platform for further research, some managerial implications should be suggested. One central point of critique or concern toward the collaborative economy is that of the potential impact on the global economy. With some consumers buying less, will this lead to a slowdown of the economy? Not necessarily, because as Lisa Gansky (2010) explains, the collaborative economy should also entail ‘selling’ the product multiple times, thereby multiplying sales and customer contact. Furthermore, she explains that more customer contact 76 leads to more opportunity for sales, branding, improving service and developing the customer relationship (Gansky 2010). Thus, as long as business models are developed and/or adapted to fit with this new consumptionscape, collaborative consumption does not mean that collaborative consumption will hurt the economy. But, as with all new paradigms, it requires that existing businesses are prepared and willing to adapt to the new consumptionscape. Mooney also confirms this view, stating that “sustainable development demands this long-­‐term [organizational] adaptability of political and economic relations” (Mooney 2004: 82). The managerial implications will be discussed further down, but first, implications related to taxation and regulation should be discussed. The theoretical analysis and the integrated model suggest that consumers’ motivations to participate in collaborative consumption are complex. This is something collaborative companies should consider when communicating their value propositions. The Altimeter Group suggests that companies rethink their strategy and value chain by becoming Company-­‐as-­‐a-­‐
Service, Motivating a Marketplace, or Providing a Platform (Owyang et al. 2013). They point to collaborative consumption as representing a disruptive force to the marketplace, and emphasize that businesses must now master the collaborative economy, just as they have had to master social media (Owyang et al. 2013). Another important implications for companies seeking to provide a mediating platform for peer-­‐
to-­‐peer transactions is that they need to start seeing their markets, and thus also their value-­‐
offering, as two-­‐sided. This necessitates business models that comply with the needs and wishes of both sides, i.e. businesses that wish to build their business model around peer-­‐to-­‐peer economy, need to build two-­‐sided platforms. However, there are now signs that the collaborative economy is making the incumbents take action to be able to take part in this new consumption paradigm. For instance, BMW has partnered with car rental company Sixt, and are now offering a service called Drive Now, where members can rent their cars by the hour (and also for longer periods of time). While this model may resemble traditional car rental services, it demonstrates that collaborative consumption is a force to be reckoned with, and that the incumbents are now starting to adapt to the collaborative consumer. Moreover, BMW have stated that they expect to integrate new mobile technology features in the Drive Now cars, which will make the car recognize the user, and adjust e.g. seat and radio settings automatically when the user unlocks the car28. Finally, managers should contemplate how they can invite consumers to co-­‐create value. This could be by defining the terms of usage and transactions in the firm-­‐consumer relationship, and 77 by building platforms where consumers better and more easily can interact with each other, thereby creating increased consumer value – and increased business value. Conclusion This thesis has made an effort to explain collaborative consumption, by means of uncovering factors that influence the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption. The theoretical conceptual approach has demonstrated that (1) the processes of adoption and diffusion are complex, and (2) collaborative consumption in itself is a complex concept, with a complex value offering. Although several factors and mechanisms have been identified as assumedly significant to these processes, the proposed integrated model and all its variables are just that, tentative suggestions. However, these suggestions provide a comprehensive theoretical framework, valuable insight, and guidance to the direction of further research. The literature review in chapter 2 revealed that collaborative consumption seems to provide a three-­‐tiered value offering to consumers: economic value, social value, and altruistic value. Furthermore, this review suggested that collaborative consumption can be seen as a form of transformative social movement, and that it is mediated by social and technological networks. Finally, the literature review provided ample evidence that collaborative consumption has a significant presence in today’s consumptionscape. Thus, the notion that we are in fact talking about a paradigm shift is supported, and hence the findings in this thesis should prove relevant to researchers, managers and consumers alike. The theoretical analysis in chapter 3 provides different perspectives on collaborative consumption and the adoption and diffusion of this new form of consumption. An analysis of different diffusion models established that the inherent properties of collaborative consumption and social interactions are important factors in the adoption and diffusion process in general, and in particular in the adoption and diffusion of collaborative consumption as collaborative consumption is inherently social. Network theories and theories of social movements were demonstrated to provide tools both for the explanation of diffusion, and for the analysis and interpretation of collaborative consumption in itself. Not least do they help explain some of the structural aspects of collaborative consumption and diffusion, which are important in order to truly understand the difference between the individual mechanisms’ role in determining the diffusion of collaborative consumption, and that of the structural factors. The number of variables included in the integrated model presented in chapter 3 confirms the complexity of the 78 problem area of this thesis. However, they also suggest great potential of the continued exploration of the field of collaborative consumption, and should provide a functional tool for further research. The discussion in chapter 4 demonstrates how collaborative consumption is a particular form of consumption. Based on the complex motivations involved in participation in collaborative consumption, mechanisms related to motivational conflict were identified as being the most significant to the adoption of collaborative consumption. Furthermore, this chapter explains one key contribution of this thesis. This contribution is based on how conditional factors and feedback loops provide additional dimensions to the method of explaining behavior through underlying, individual mechanisms. Although this thesis pertains to this method of explanation by mechanisms, I wish to highlight that conditional factors such as innovativeness and structural conduciveness and strain, and feedback loops through e.g. reciprocal determinism provide a highly constructive backdrop in the analysis of the individual mechanisms. The further diffusion of collaborative consumption will involve implications important to researchers, to the individual consumer and to society overall, and to managers. These implications were discussed in this last chapter, and demonstrated the significance of the initial effort of conceptualization that this thesis provides. In sum, this thesis has demonstrated that collaborative consumption offers an elaborate value proposition to consumers. This value proposition, which seems capable of meeting economic, social and altruistic needs and wants of the consumer, may be exactly what consumers need to fulfill their complex sets of needs and wishes in an increasingly liquid society. As a final concluding remark I only wish to say that Rachel Botsman may be right when predicting that collaborative consumption may be as big as the industrial revolution. 79 Chapter ) – L iterature 6, P. 2011, Explaining Political Judgement, Cambridge University Press.
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1,28804,2059521_2059717_2059710,00.html 2­‐europe-­‐27792942 3 This summary is inspired by one made by Harold Kincaid, at University of Alabama at Birmingham 4,28804,2059521_2059717_2059710,00.html 5­‐trends-­‐2013 6 7 8 Rachel Botsman is a social innovator and one of the front spokespeople of collaborative consumption. She writes, consults and speaks on the power of collaboration and sharing through network technologies. She is also the coauthor of ‘What is Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption’ (From 9 10 11­‐finds-­‐sharers-­‐want-­‐value-­‐with-­‐meaning 12­‐sharing 13­‐sharing 14­‐sharing 15­‐in-­‐the-­‐share-­‐
economy/?utm_source=nextdraft&utm_medium=email 16­‐welcome-­‐to-­‐the-­‐sharing-­‐
economy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1& 17­‐sharing 88 18 Extensive empirical evidence supports the claim that there are no behavioral differences between ‘collective action’, ‘collective behavior’ and ‘social action’ (Oliver 1993). 19 Just like Barton, I here consider ”a ’user’ or ’customer’ to be someone who utilizes the cooperative, whether it is through a buying or selling action” (Barton 1989: 11). However, cooperative also have buyers and suppliers who are not users or customers of the cooperative. 20­‐sharing 21­‐sharing 22­‐sharing 23­‐in-­‐the-­‐share-­‐
economy/?utm_source=nextdraft&utm_medium=email 24­‐welcome-­‐to-­‐the-­‐sharing-­‐
economy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1& 25­‐sharing 26­‐lyft-­‐airbnb-­‐sharing-­‐economy-­‐city-­‐regulation/ 27­‐is-­‐to-­‐stay-­‐in-­‐amsterdam/ 28­‐sharing 89