Internationalization in sharing economy : a business model approach
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- Master Thesis 
With the rise of the sharing economy, we witness a significant heterogeneity in the internationalization process of sharing economy companies. While some of these companies spread globally in a relatively short time, other companies seem to be locally bounded. This raises the question as to what facilitates or hinders the internationalization process of sharing economy companies. Noteworthy established theories in the field of international strategy do not sufficiently explain the process of internationalization of sharing economy firms, as those theories were mainly developed in an era dominated by manufacturing and product-oriented firms. Thus, to date, extant studies have not been able to explain this phenomenon. Hence the aim of this research is to understand the internationalization process of sharing economy companies and develop a theoretical framework that could explain this process. To tackle this issue, we adopt a business model perspective and develop a framework that dimensionalizes the propensity of sharing economy firms to expand globally. We test our proposed model against six different sharing economy companies belonging to three different sectors. We find that the level of flexibility in each component within the business model design will impact the internationalization prospects of the sharing economy firm. In particular, we discover that the companies that: 1) depend on wide range of key partners to conduct their key activities 2) are able to replicate or transfer their key resources, distribution channels, customer relationships in new markets with fewer investment 3) develop a broader value proposition and rely on wider target segment are able to internationalize swiftly and successfully than the rest. Consequently, our research is among the first to provide first-hand evidence into the internationalization process of sharing economy companies and hereby foster research at the intersection between business model and international strategy. In turn, our thesis opens up a new agenda for the future research to understand the vast ranging implications of choice and design of business models for the success and global expansion of sharing economy firms. Furthermore, our research offers noteworthy implications for the entrepreneurs and managers of sharing economy companies as it provides inspiration on how to design their business models for successful internationalization.