Doctoral Dissertation

22.8.2018 M.Sc. Taneli Vaskelainen (Jy­väs­ky­lä Uni­ver­si­ty School of Busi­ness and Eco­no­mics, Corporate Environmental Management)

M.Sc. Taneli Vaskelainen defends his doctoral dissertation in Corporate Environmental Management "Sharing Economy Industry Emergence: Insights from the German Carsharing Industry”. Opponent Professor, Dr. Jonatan Pinkse (Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK) and Custos Professor Hanna-Leena Pesonen (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.

Over the past decade, the concept of the sharing economy—the services that exploit unutilized assets—has become mainstream. There is a vibrant academic discussion regarding the topic, but so far, very little research has been conducted on the emergence of the sharing economy industries.

My dissertation contributes to this research area by conducting a phenomenon-driven longitudinal analysis into the forces influencing the emergence and development of the German carsharing industry, ranging from the establishment of the first professional carsharing organization in 1988 to it becoming a thriving industry in year 2015. I have collected a rich dataset on the topic that I analyze both qualitatively and quantitatively in three articles. In the articles, I focus on the forces influencing the business model development and market categorization.

My dissertation shows that the actors in the German carsharing industry— corporate joint ventures and small companies and cooperatives that stem from the social movement that first started carsharing in Germany—are embedded in different business logics. The differing logics inhibit the actors from directly copying each other’s business models, resulting in numerous models in the market. It is further demonstrated that the business models thrive in different geographical environments, and as a result, it is not expected that one of them would supplant the others in the short term. For market categorization, I demonstrate that because of the hype surrounding the mainstreaming of carsharing, the media has held a lot of power in the categorization: it has pushed new corporate-driven services to the carsharing category, even though all the producers have resisted it.

My dissertation makes several contributions to the literature. For the business model literature, institutional logics are presented as a moderating factor of the business model development. For the market categorization literature, the roles of the media, social movement, and corporations are clarified in the specific case of the corporate co-optation of a social movement initiated category. For research on the sharing economy, it is suggested that the sharing economy should not be discussed as a monolith and that the communality identified as one of the foundational cores of the phenomenon does not necessarily mean resorting to non-market mechanisms in transactions. Instead, it is useful to perceive this as an institutional logic driving the actors.

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Taneli Vaskelainen

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