When Giants Meet: Collaborative Economy, Blockchain Technology, and Social Media

When Giants Meet: Collaborative Economy, Blockchain Technology, and Social Media

Myriam Ertz (LaboNFC, University of Quebec at Chicoutimi, Canada) and Émilie Boily (LaboNFC, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Canada)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4543-0.ch005
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Abstract

The collaborative economy (CE) involves an intensification of direct or intermediated peer-to-peer trade, underpinned by robust digital infrastructures and processes, hence an increased use of new technologies and a redefinition of business activities. As an inherently connected economy, the CE is, therefore, prone to integrating the most recent technological advances including artificial intelligence, big data analysis, augmented reality, the smart grid, and blockchain technology. As an innovative payment and finance technology, the blockchain and cryptocurrencies could have potential implications for the CE. This chapter consists of a conceptual review analyzing how the CE connects with the blockchain technology. The chapter presents subsequently the organizational and managerial implications related to the use of blockchain technology in terms of governance, transaction costs, and user confidence. An illustrative case further examines the role of a prominent social media in the CE-blockchain nexus.
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Introduction

Several confluences of technological, economic and sociocultural phenomena, are currently shifting conventional forms of commercial exchanges (Ertz et al., 2019a). This article discusses an exemplification of this supposed reconfiguration of commercial exchange. The study explores how the two societal phenomena of the collaborative economy (CE) and the blockchain technology (BT), both resulting markedly from technological advances and economic disturbances, intersect to reorganize and rearrange commercial exchanges. Although having almost become a vernacular concept, the CE is an economic model that has taken on an unprecedented scale and scope through technological advances (Roos and Hahn, 2019). It has resulted in demultiplying peer-to-peer (P2P), peer-to-organization (P2O) and organization-to-peer (O2P) exchanges (Ertz et al., 2016). Other major developments in computer sciences and in mathematics have led to the emergence of the blockchain technology (Ghilal and Nach, 2019). This technology has led to an intensification of more genuine P2P exchanges with limited intermediation. Despite connections between both blockchain technology and the CE, in terms of technological advances and facilitation of peer-to-peer exchanges, few studies have examined the intertwining of both phenomena. Since the literature on this subject remains sparse, the objective of this article is to examine current information on the subject in order to understand the role played by blockchain technology in the development of collaborative practices.

This study adopts an exploratory descriptive design for its ability to provide a preliminary understanding of new and poorly documented phenomena. In addition, this design provides a frame for the formulation of new ideas and hypotheses. Since studies conducted on the topic of the CE and the blockchain technology are relatively recent, this article also aims at gathering state of the art research on the use of blockchain technology in order to understand its potential implication within collaborative practices. This technology may have the potential to act as a catalyst of the development of the CE by further decentralizing transactions and exchanges. Blockchain technology may therefore spur impacts on the diffusion of this new socioeconomic model known as the CE while also giving rise to a reconfiguration of existing actors, systems and roles. Since the impacts of blockchain technology on the development of the CE remains largely unexplored, the present study seeks to fill this theoretically and practically relevant gap by setting the following two objectives:

  • 1)

    Define and conceptualize blockchain technology in the collaborative economy sphere;

  • 2)

    Explore the potential implications of blockchain technology for the collaborative economy.

The contributions of this exploratory study are twofold. First, the paper provides a literature review that encapsulates the concepts of cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology and the CE. Second, the study results in the development of a theory-based research agenda to spur future research on the subject.

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Methodology

We used Scopus, Web of Science, Business Source Complete and ABI/Inform databases to retrieve the articles containing the search terms “collaborative economy”, “sharing economy”, “blockchain”, and “cryptocurrency”. We then used the search strings “collaborative economy AND blockchain”, “collaborative economy AND cryptocurrency” as well as “sharing economy AND blockchain”, “sharing economy AND cryptocurrency” in order to retrieve relevant articles for the purpose of our study. We refined the search outcomes by retaining only publications in English, dating from 2010 onwards, as well as specific publication formats such as journal articles, books, conference proceedings, professional journal articles, and research reports.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social Network: A social structure made up of a set of social actors sets of dyadic ties, and other social interactions between actors.

Blockchain Technology: A decentralized and secure database of transactions based on decentralized nodes typically miners.

Collaborative Economy: A set of resource circulation systems which enable consumers to both obtain and provide, temporarily or permanently, valuable resources or services through direct interaction with other consumers or through a mediator.

Users: Individuals seeking to obtain (e.g., second-hand purchase, reception of donations, swapping, renting, or co-use).

Suppliers: Individuals offering a private resource, usually underutilized or unused and holding the resource for provision (e.g., sale, donation, swapping, rental, or co-use).

Collaborative Platforms: An infrastructure for the mutualization or redistribution of goods or services between users, as well as the establishment and maintenance of trust for the realization of exchanges.

Proof of Stake (PoS): A consensus strategy or algorithm in which miners have to prove the ownership of the amount of currency on the blockchain.

Proof of Work (PoW): A consensus strategy or algorithm used in hashes’ or blocks’ validation processes on the blockchain.

Cryptocurreny: A medium of exchange that functions like money (in that it can be exchanged for goods and services) but, unlike traditional currency, is untethered to, and independent from, national borders, central banks, sovereigns, or fiats.

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