The sharing economy platforms facilitate collaboration across geographical boundaries and promote service innovation by reshaping traditional business networks. This study takes a Social Capital Theory perspective on how Social Capital (SC) is created on professional sharing economy platforms, with particular attention to the creative services industry. Our in-depth qualitative investigation draws on 35 interviews with freelance designers and platform clients based in 17 different countries. The study demonstrates that SC created outside sharing economy platforms is not readily transferred to these platforms, which represents a major difference from the dynamics of SC in more traditional settings. Furthermore, SC transfer between platforms is difficult. Building platform-specific SC ‘from scratch’ requires a significant effort and is highly dependent on reputation systems, in the form of ratings and reviews. We argue that the platforms’ reputation systems force members to become ‘slaves’ to ensuring their star ratings and reviews are as good as possible. In addition, we explore how platform members learn to build SC on the platforms beyond ratings and reviews. Overall, the study contributes to academic discussions on opportunities and challenges for service innovation within the sharing economy and introduces the application of Social Capital Theory to the context of sharing economy platforms.
Tóth, Z., Nemkova, E., Hizsák, G., & Naudé, P. (2022). Social capital creation on professional sharing economy platforms: The problems of rating dependency and the non-transferability of social capital. Journal of Business Research, 144, 450-460. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2022.01.090