Understanding platform business models: A mixed methods study of marketplaces

Karl Taeuscher, Sven M. Laudien

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Recent technological advances have enabled the emergence of novel business models based on digital platforms. Marketplace like Airbnb or Uber offer such digital platforms to connect previously unmatched demand-side and supply-side participants through innovative forms of value creation, delivery and capture. While countless firms claim to offer the next ‘Airbnb for X’ or ‘Uber for Y’, we lack knowledge about the defining business model characteristics of these marketplaces. To close the gap, this paper provides a conceptually and empirically grounded taxonomy of their business models. Applying a mixed methods approach, it first develops an integrative framework of marketplace business models. Guided by the framework, the research systematically analyzes 100 randomly selected marketplaces with content analysis and binary coding. The gathered data is analyzed with cluster analysis techniques to develop a taxonomy for marketplace business models. The clustering process reveals six clearly distinguishable types of marketplace business models and thus shows that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating, delivering, and capturing value with marketplaces and platforms in general. We characterize these distinctive types on basis of the qualitative and quantitative findings. Among others, we find that two of these types are highly aligned with business model characteristics associated with the so-called sharing economy. The findings are discussed against platform, marketplace, and sharing economy literature to contribute to a higher integration of different literature streams that are concerned with similar organizational types and phenomena.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319–329
JournalEuropean Management Journal
Issue number3
Early online date21 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Business modelsMarketplacesPlatformsMixed methods approachDigital economy

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute of Innovation Research


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