To share or not to share? Exploring the impact of sharing behavior on user innovativeness

Thorsten Pieper, Hamburg University of Technology

Frank Tietze, University of Cambridge

Carsten Schultz, Kiel University

Cornelius Herstatt, Hamburg University of Technology



We observe a rise of new business models that embed different forms of sharing. This topic has hardly been picked up by innovation research and particularly in the user innovation research community, except for online open-source communities. This paper sets out to link users’ sharing behavior to users’ innovation behavior. Prior user innovation studies mainly concentrate on markets in which users purchase products and, thus, both own and control a product. In sharing communities, where users have access to a pool of tangible goods, like cars or machinery, the separation of ownership and control induces uncertainty and complexity in the user innovation process, increasing users’ costs to innovate. This paper therefore explores the relationship between users’ innovativeness and users’ sharing experience within sharing communities. Primary data was collected from a large German farmer sharing community with 50+ years of sharing experience. The survey yielded 1,064 responses. Our results show that sharing has a significant positive impact on the user’s innovation behavior. Users’ technical expertise positively moderates this relationship. With this paper we contribute (i) a new concept that we label “sharing experience” and its operationalization based on the well-established use experience concept, (ii) a first empirical analysis quantifying the impact of sharing on user innovativeness and (iii) a typology to categorize sharing types.


Keywords: User innovation, sharing economy, sharing experience


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