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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Andrea Kim, Business Administration (Management)

Disruptive New Firms in the Sharing Economy: A Process View of Corporate Reputations

Friday, April 3, 2020
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Jennifer Sachs



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.


The thesis addresses the formation of corporate reputations for digital platform-based disruptive new firms (DNFs) in the sharing economy. I provide one of the first empirical studies to examine the process by which reputations unfold over time, taken from a socially constructed view. I offer a nuanced understanding into the formation of both market and character reputations. I conduct a longitudinal qualitative analysis of a typical case of DNFs in the sharing economy, Uber Technologies Inc. The findings highlight that DNFs develop rapid market reputations and may sustain it in light of misconduct and wrongdoing. The impact of enduring misconduct, places a negative pressure on DNFs character reputations, however limited. I evaluate stakeholder sensemaking in two marketplaces: the marketplace of goods and services and the marketplace of ideas (Mahon & Wartick, 2003). In the former, DNFs are subject to rapid market responses by primary stakeholders, investors, who by rewarding firms on meeting economic imperatives, incite the adoption of precarious practices. In the marketplace of ideas, misconduct and wrongdoing evoke more significant tensions between economic and social values. The nature of DNFs wrongdoing often resides in a grey zone, which drives contested understandings in the marketplace of ideas. Enduring and positive market signals of DNFs market reputations also interfere with stakeholder sensemaking. As a result, character reputations take time to form and place limited pressure on market reputations. I also highlight that the embeddedness of CEO-founders’ is a critical mechanism by which DNFs may ward off significant damage to character reputations.

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