TALKING THE TALK EQUALS WALKING THE WALK? : A Quantitative Study of the Attitude-Action Gap in the Sharing Economy
Sammanfattning: Customer behavior has always been of interest for business researchers. However, it is just in recent years that there has been an increasing interest in the phenomenon of the sharing economy. It has been suggested that there is an ongoing shift in the traditional way of consuming. The idea behind the sharing economy is that two different parties can make use of their underused assets through an online platform. Previous quantitative research in the area of interest mainly focuses on the motivational factors for participation in the sharing economy; four of the most prominent factors were therefore identified and further investigated. In this thesis, these factors are referred to as drivers and more specifically, the drivers of enjoyment, sustainability, convenience, and financial benefits. Further, previous research gives an indication of a discrepancy between customer attitudes and actions when making a decision in the sharing economy. With this in mind, the purpose of this thesis is to describe customer behavior in the sharing economy. More specifically, this thesis seeks to study the relationship between attitudes and actions of customers in the sharing economy. Taking this into account, the following research question was formulated: What is the relationship between attitudes and actions of the customers participating in the sharing economy of Rentl AB? In order to fulfill the purpose of this thesis, the Swedish sharing economy business Rentl was addressed. To answer the research question a quantitative research strategy was followed where a survey was sent out to randomly chosen customers of Rentl and 145 responses were collected. The collected data was statistically analyzed by the use of Paired T-tests and Regression Analyses. Further, the empirical findings regarding the four identified drivers were analyzed in accordance with the theoretical framework. The identified attitude-action gap is therefore analyzed by the application of basic customer decision-making, the theory of Bounded Rationality, the Theory of Reasoned Action & the Theory of Planned Behavior, and finally the Self-Determination Theory. The authors established that there is a positive relationship between attitudes and actions regarding the extrinsic drivers, convenience and financial benefits. However, it was further established that the intrinsic drivers, enjoyment and sustainability, do not have a significant influence on the actual actions. In other words, a positive attitude toward enjoyment and sustainability as drivers for participation in the sharing economy does not necessarily translate into actions. Thus, the authors identified that there is an attitude-action gap in the sharing economy. In addition to the theoretical contributions, this research further contributes with practical aspects. More importantly, the sharing business Rentl is provided with a better understanding for the customer behavior in their business. Considering that the findings of this research identify convenience and financial benefits as significant drivers for participation, this can be emphasized in marketing contexts by managers.
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