PhD Oral Exam - Alexander Davidson, Business Administration
When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
As a result of the global economic collapse of 2008, consumers sought other means of gaining access to products and services aside from the burdens of ownership. Widely referred to as the sharing economy, consumers began to coordinate the acquisition and distribution of resources with the help of various online social media platforms. This dissertation explores antecedents of consumer resistance towards participation in the sharing economy. It demonstrates the influence of an unconscious and chronically motivated psychological construct that acts as a barrier towards adoption. Structure-seeking has a significant impact on individuals’ motivation to require predictability, routine, order, structure and disfavor uncertainty within situations and across daily activities. Building on the cognitive structuring literature and Compensatory Control Theory, structure-seeking tendencies are revealed to have a strong relationship with resistance towards adopting certain sharing economy services. In the first essay, two experimental studies demonstrate that structure-seeking consumers generate resistance towards adopting Airbnb but not other sharing economy services that more closely resemble traditional economic models. Through targeted marketing communications, this effect is found to reverse when consumers are exposed to message frames promoting structure and consistency within service experiences. The second essay explores the social cognition literature and demonstrates how structure-seeking influences preferences for service providers who exhibit attributes related to competence but not warmth or morality. It is argued that resistance towards services like Airbnb can be accounted for by the perception of hosts as warm but incompetent. A general discussion highlights the findings of both essays and details the limitations, implications and avenues for future research. This dissertation significantly contributes to research on the sharing economy as well as Compensatory Control Theory and provides valuable insights for both practitioners and scholars.