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Authenticity and the Sharing Economy

Based on a qualitative interview-study as well as on a quantitative survey among users of the room sharing platform Airbnb, we show that situational closeness between sharing economy consumers and providers may prompt instances of interpersonal contamination which in turn negatively impact reviewer behaviour and intention to engage in room sharing in the future. However, we also show that authenticity plays a significant alleviating role in shaping such closeness perceptions. Users whose sense of authenticity is evoked in their sharing experiences are significantly less bothered by negative instances of interpersonal closeness and are thus more liable to use sharing services. Our results point to the integral nature of both authenticity and the invocation of notions of authenticity for sharing business models who are reliant, by their very nature, on alleviating the imperfections of amateur production.

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