The Nordic Centre for Internet and Society's Eliane Bucher, Christian Fieseler and Christoph Lutz, in collaboration with Matthes Fleck (University of Applied Sciences Lucerne), have published a new article in Academy of Management Discoveries. The paper is part of the special issue "Business Models, Ecosystems, and Society in the Sharing Academy", edited by Tomi Laamanen, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Andrew van de Ven.
In their research, the authors looked into the role of authenticity and contaminating factors in the context of Airbnb. Combining qualitative interviews with a quantitative survey, the study differentiates four contaminating factors: environmental hygiene (e.g., hair in the sink, dust, dirt), personal objects (e.g., taxidermics), interpersonal contact (e.g., annoying host behavior) and privacy intrusion (e.g., pushy host behavior). In the survey, Airbnb guests revealed most discomfort with the lack of environmental hygiene, followed by personal objects, privacy intrusion and finally interpersonal contact. The respondents perceived Airbnb as highly authentic and the more they saw Airbnb as authentic, the more willing they were to forgive instances of contamination.
The results point to the importance of authenticity in a sharing economy context and have theoretical and practical implications. Sharing economy platforms, for example, can try to leverage authenticity to their advantage. For example, nudging guests toward authenticity may alleviate the severity of the effect of interpersonal contamination on the perceived overall quality of the sharing experience.
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