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ICT-enabled Connectedness: Implications for Sharing Economy and Communication Contexts


  • Abramova, Olga


The advent of the Internet and other modern ICTs has culminated in a “global village,” where people can interact with others across the globe as if they were living next door. This ICT-enabled connectedness has brought opportunities for the creation of new forms of exchange. Companies like YouTube, Alibaba or BlaBlaCar have successfully adopted a novel way of structuring their businesses – a platform model - by shifting organizational design away from selling products towards the facilitation of exchanges between two or more (related) user groups (e.g., content creators and audience in case of Youtube, sellers and buyers for Alibaba, riders and drivers in case of BlaBlaCar). This thesis focuses on two main areas that are affected by the transformation engendered by the ICT-enabled connectedness – business and communication. First, it discusses the sharing economy as a new economic paradigm that disrupted the traditional ownership model by leveraging peer-to-peer technological platforms to facilitate the exchange of resources. While many practitioners have presaged the sharing economy to open significant opportunities for a more sustainable and open society, some experts questioned the potentially devastating future of such peer-to-peer deals, drawing particular attention to the amplified information asymmetries. Prior research has explored uncertainty as a significant source of information asymmetry, mainly in e-commerce (e.g., eBay). Focusing on the unique contextual characteristics of sharing transactions (e.g., absence of ownership transfer, service orientation and intense interaction among parties), seven papers respond to an apparent urgency for systematic and thorough scrutiny of the sources and consequences of uncertainty in this particular domain. Paper A conceptualizes uncertainty in sharing arrangements by building on information asymmetry theory and extends it from supplier and resource to collaboration. We construct and validate a theoretical model that includes the antecedents, nature, and consequences of uncertainty. Building on the fact that ambiguity can be reduced with information, Paper B investigates the effectiveness and monetary value of the information cues commonly used by sharing platforms via a discrete choice experiment methodology. Acknowledging the potentially adverse effect of such cues as negative reviews, peer-to-peer sharing platforms have readily embraced the “response” option, empowering providers with the opportunity to challenge, deny or at least apologize for the subject of critique. Leaning on communication theory, Paper C explores the impact of different response strategies and review negativity on trusting beliefs towards the provider in accommodation sharing settings. Extending this line of research, Paper D, as a practice-oriented article, highlights the implications of negative reviews on the host’s image and willingness to rent a room. Lastly, Paper E reverses the perspective and affirms the receptivity of suppliers to the cues sent from the consumer’s side. As such, it uncovers the impact of different self-presentation strategies of an applicant on the host’s decision to accept a request from a stranger on a peer-to-peer sharing platform. Second, this thesis debates the implications of the ICT-enabled connectedness in the interpersonal communication context. The pervasive use of ICTs (especially smartphones) makes a difference in the ways we maintain and develop relationships, disclose things to each other, and exchange information. Users’ attachment to their smartphones, which often serve to engage with social media, evidenced detrimental intra- and interpersonal consequences, including negative emotions like envy, anger, depression and conflicts among conversational partners. To this end, two papers of the dissertation challenge the frequently promoted euphoria regarding the permanent “connectedness.” Specifically, the phenomenon of snubbing an interlocutor when using the smartphone in his or her company, coined as “phubbing,” motivations behind this behavior and the effect on communicational outcomes in education and relationship contexts have been investigated. Paper F focuses on the academic environment and demonstrates how interruptions through ICT undermine two key learning modalities – visual and auditory attention. Paper G investigates excessive smartphone use in a romantic context. We construct and validate a conceptual model that posits ignoring a partner with the smartphone as a predictor of adverse relationship outcomes through triggering feelings of jealousy. Implications for future research and practitioners are extensively discussed for each article and recapped in the final chapter.

Suggested Citation

  • Abramova, Olga, 2020. "ICT-enabled Connectedness: Implications for Sharing Economy and Communication Contexts," Publications of Darmstadt Technical University, Institute for Business Studies (BWL) 121680, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute for Business Studies (BWL).
  • Handle: RePEc:dar:wpaper:121680
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