Social-exchange versus economic-exchange driven processes: The emergence of peer-to-peer start-up-business models in Denmark

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


The digitalisation of manufacturing, which has currently reached the stage “industry 4.0”, and the services around the various manufacturing industries have created new opportunities for both incumbent companies and start-up businesses (Vinogradov et al., 2021; Frank, 2019). According to Tian et al. (2022), the industry 4.0 context forces manufacturers to transform their current business models from the sere manufacturing to co-creation of customization and therewith leads to a stretching of the current boundaries of exchanges and resource integration between companies. Particularly the logic of peer-to-peer-platform driven business models has enabled companies to co-create an enlarged product/service portfolio through combining the focus on core competences with sharing capabilities (Frank, 2019; Jussen et al., 2021). This process is, however, in its initial phase of development in which it remains often unclear for both incumbent companies and start-up businesses how they could leverage platform thinking for adapting their current business models. Such an adaptation of business models through the use of peer-to-peer platforms would lead to three major advantages (Jussen et al., 2021): the creation of new knowledge, the availability of data-based mass products/services and a faster rollout of product and service improvements. Even if the gains are obvious, incumbent companies (particularly SMEs) are often reluctant regarding investments into further digitalisation or do not have the necessary resources to become more digitised without co-creators (Kazantsev and Martens, 2021). To this end, start-up businesses that are specialized in peer-to-peer platforms are drivers in the process of developing new business models and may as well be vital partners to complement the more reluctant or indecisive incumbent companies. Against the backdrop of these developments, this chapter is motivated by the under-explored aspect of how start-ups would complement the process of developing peer-to-peer business models along the entire supply- and value chains and of how they would use various roles for improving their start-ups (Tain, et al, 2021; Vinogradov et al., 2021) . For capturing this process, the logic of overlapping exchange networks is approached (Tian, 2022; Cook et al., 1983; Cook and Hahn, 2021). The process of sharing or reshaping platform models is understood as being embedded in networks and activities of social and economic exchanges (Cook et al., 1983; Cook and Hahn, 2021). As of now, only limited insights are available regarding how start-up businesses develop these initial business relationships through various exchanges (Baraldi et al., 2019; Baraldi et al., 2020; Slavik, 2019; La Rocca and Snehota; 2021) and how the structure of exchanges, in return, influences the emergence of business models. One mechanism to orchestrate relationships is the development of particular roles (Heikkinen et al, 2007) that support reciprocity in the relationships (Cook et al., 1983; Cook and Hahn, 2021). Start-up businesses and the entrepreneurs behind start-up businesses, who use roles in a targeted way, can gain positions and mould relationships that support the creation of their initial business models (Heikkinen et al. 2007).
This chapter explores the associations between the structure of exchanges (economic versus social exchange) and the roles developed and applied by start-up entrepreneurs. By illustrating how start-up entrepreneurs use role-making and role-taking to shape and/or contribute to new digitalised business models, the research question can be formulated as follows: How does role-taking and role-making interact with the structure of exchanges (i.e., a situation when social exchange is dominant versus a situation in which economic exchange is dominant) during the emergence of start-up business models in the peer-to-peer platform-based sharing economy?
The remainder of the paper is organised as follows: In the second section, the theoretical framework will be presented through the model assumptions and an adapted theory of social and economic exchange that fits the context of this investigation. This will be followed by an empirical section. The subsequent discussion and conclusion section will take up the research question, provide some answers to it and present an avenue for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Digital Platforms and Ecosystems in Manufacturing
EditorsSabine Baumann
Number of pages20
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17. Jun 2023


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