To share or not to share – Exploring how sharing behaviour impacts user innovation



This paper conceptually and empirically explores the impact of users’ product sharing behaviour on user innovation. This study contributes (i) a new concept labelled “sharing experience” and its operationalization based on the well-established use experience construct, (ii) a typology that categorizes four user groups based on their sharing activity, (iii) an empirical analysis exploring the impact of sharing experience on user innovativeness and (iv) five case studies that provide insights into how sharing impacts the user innovation process. Qualitative and quantitative primary data was collected from a large German farmer sharing community established since 50+ years. Following a pre-study based on 26 interviews with key stakeholders to understand the empirical setting, in a first study we analyzed survey data from 563 respondents. The results indicate that users’ sharing experience is positively associated with user innovativeness in certain situations and that users’ technical expertise appears to positively moderate this relationship. In a second qualitative study we conducted five case studies based on 14 in-depth interviews with user innovators that we identified from the survey finding that users employ two distinct strategies when innovating in sharing settings, namely permanent modifications and reversible add-ons.


sharing experience construct sharing types ownership 


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We thank Cornelius Herstatt who supported the development of this article and contributed as co-author in an earlier version of this paper. We further thank Kirsten Samson for supporting the pre-study data collection, Tom Oberquelle for collecting survey data and Kristian Lennart Knuth for conducting case study interviews. Gerhard Röhrl has kindly supported the survey on behalf of the German Maschinenring association. We also like to thank all survey and interview participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Technology ManagementUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Institut für Technologie- und InnovationsmanagementTechnische Universität HamburgHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Institut für InnovationsforschungChristian-Albrechts-Universität zu KielKielGermany

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