Can Airbnb’s Role as an Ecosystem Orchestrator Explain Its Reconfiguration of Ownership Advantages for Internationalisation?

Sabharwal, Gurveer (2019) Can Airbnb’s Role as an Ecosystem Orchestrator Explain Its Reconfiguration of Ownership Advantages for Internationalisation? [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]

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The Eclectic Paradigm of Foreign Production has been instrumental in explaining subsidiary activity by MNEs. While possession of tangible ownership advantages took precedence in Dunning's paradigm, Sharing Economy firms have achieved rapid internationalisation through their "asset-lite" business models. Airbnb's access to its hosts, platform and institutional forces, has reconfigured its ownership advantages. I explore Airbnb's role as a micro-meso-macro-level ecosystem orchestrator. By studying the firm's management of host relationships, networks and institutions, I study its ability to reconfigure ecosystem dynamics into ownership advantages.

I inductively observe these dynamics in the firm's journey in China through public interviews. By studying their platform capabilities, organisational strategy and regulatory expertise, I establish a temporal framework for the firm's ecosystem strategy. I then conduct a deductive case analysis of the firm's experiences in Japan, India, South Africa, and Brazil to draw specific generalisations. Combining Airbnb's access-based O advantages with a dynamic capability view of its ecosystem orchestration, I outline the firm's ability to reconfigure them into possession-based O advantages. I finally propose extensions for the Eclectic Paradigm in the Age of Sharing economy firms and platform-based business models.

I find that China provided a fertile environment for the firm's complete internalisation of its embedded ecosystem through an autonomous subsidiary. An overlap in the firm's marketplace culture and Chinese culture facilitated complete reorchestration of its relationships and networks. Japan's macro-level market imperfections required orchestration of a supply-side partner ecosystem strategy. Goal-alignment and capability assessment of partners was instrumental in their network-level ecosystem orchestration. India and South Africa outlined instances where network-level partnerships were pursued with NGOs to partially-internalise externalities created through Airbnb's business model. Finally, it was generalised that despite its "asset-lite" status, the firm's platform reconfiguration, organisational strategy and knowledge management strategy makes it "capability-heavy". It uses organisational functions like Community Operations, Public Policy and Communications, Legal, and Market Management, to capture and reconfigure its O-based advantages at multiple ecosystem levels.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Depositing User: Sabharwal, Gurveer
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2022 10:29
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 10:29

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