Matching B2B-Partners in the Sharing Economy
Authors: Luca Niederhauser, Toni Waefler, Sebastian Huber, Uta Juettner, Karina Von Dem Berge, Charles Huber, Simona Burri
Abstract: The sharing economy offers great potential for companies to access resources in a more sustainable way, to create knowledge synergies or to save costs. This potential is particularly attractive to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as it provides access to scarce resources that otherwise are not affordable. However, sharing resources in B2B is not yet widespread. Therefore, in this project, which is supported by the Swiss federation, we aimed at promoting sharing between SMEs. To do so, we developed tools supporting different phases of sharing projects. This paper focuses on the initial phase of a sharing project where SMEs interested in sharing need to find partners. The tool we developed for that purpose supports partner matching. To develop the tool, we started with an extensive literature review to identify the factors that contribute to a successful sharing. This review revealed a total of about 40 success factors. From these, the most critical factors were selected through expert judgment and testing as described below. This resulted in a final set of 16 factors deemed important and demonstrated to be distinctive. Expert judgment to validate the success factors was conducted by the means of interviews (n=10) with representatives of Swiss SMEs interested in B2B sharing. Beside factor validation, results from the interviews showed that companies have a very heterogeneous understanding of what factors are important for a successful sharing. The importance assigned to the different success factors seemed to strongly depend on characteristics of the resource to be shared and on the importance of a particular resource to the individual SME's business. We concluded that consensus on the importance of success factors is not a prerequisite for successful sharing. Rather, it is important that the different objectives and associated expectations for sharing are not incompatible. Thus, the success factors can help identify potential areas of incompatibility and thus clarify where consensus needs to be found and where heterogeneous views will not have a negative impact on a successful partnership. To test the success factors, we operationalized and integrated them into a diagnostic tool that allows interested companies to self-assess and enables them to find potentially suitable sharing partners. This tool was tested by Swiss SMEs (n=10). Based on the tests, two version of the diagnostic tool were developed: A short version with five items that supports platform-based online matching, and a long version with 16 items that supports a more comprehensive negotiating process between partners willing to share resources. The two versions of the tool, the operationalized criteria as well as the tool application will be presented in the paper.
Keywords: sharing economy, business-to-business (B2B), partner matching, success factors, diagnostic tool, network-based business models, digital economy
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