The Structure and Micro-Foundation of Hybrid Governance: The Case of the Sharing Economy

  • Yaomin Zhang

Student thesis: Phd


By designing and leveraging digital infrastructure that allows different parties to interact, a sharing platform lets individuals access a pool of physical or human assets. It represents a novel organizing form that builds collaborative architecture to optimize resource distribution. For motivating individuals to participate and contribute to social and economic value creation, sharing platforms use a mix of incentives and simultaneously facilitate social bonds and economic transactions between people. Whether a platform enables the desired mixed relationship and brings on board sufficient participants can decide its success. However, we know little about how sharing platforms' coupling of the potentially conflicting relationships varies and evolves. The dissertation asks two questions: How do sharing platforms combine social and economic logics differently to facilitate peer relations? How does a sharing platform address its conflicts with members when it changes the social rules of sharing? For laying the conceptual foundation, the first paper introduces a framework that unpacks the distinct but interplaying values and practices of facilitating social bonds and economic transactions in sharing activities. Drawing on the framework and a configurational method, the second paper maps out the patterns of how sharing platforms from five industries combine these values and practices. The patterns reveal both the flexibilities and asymmetric limiting conditions of integrating and developing hybrid governance. The third paper identifies a prototypical case of a sharing platform that made a significant change in its long-existing social rules of sharing homes. New consensus and execution of the change were managed through the platform's contestation with members in digital spaces. The dissertation unveils the complexity of governing sharing platforms to mix potentially competing rationales and promote multi-value creation. It provides initial explanations and systematic evidence on how the complementarity and internal conflict of multiple logics can shape platform governance structure and evolution. It elaborates on the perceptual nature of 'mission drift' and promotes the investigation of institutional complexity and change in digital transformation.
Date of Award1 Aug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAndrew Mcmeekin (Supervisor) & Jonatan Pinkse (Supervisor)

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