As the university announced, Prof. Dr. Marion Büttgen and Mattias Steinert from the company management department investigated how potential customers perceive anarchic behavior of start-up companies in the sharing economy. In the course of his master thesis, Steinert conducted an online experiment in which he presented a total of 650 subjects (including 334 completed surveys) to a fictitious car-sharing company.

The case constellation: The company Driver4U mediates with Handyappfahrts to private persons, which offer themselves with their private car as chauffeurs – at a price well below the usual taxi fares. The cheap competition is the established taxi company a thorn in the eye. They file suit against Driver4U. A court forbids Driver4U to operate the business.

Then they would have varied the anarchic behavior of the enterprise and the legitimacy of the broken legal regulation for different participant groups, explains Prof. Dr. Büttgen the experiment.

Variation of anarchic behavior according to fictitious court judgment
Variant 1: The subjects in this group learn that Driver4U is showing up ruefully one day after the verdict and asks the local taxpayer. In addition, it encourages its drivers to purchase a passenger transport license and wants to bear the costs.

Variant 2: One day after the ruling, Driver4U celebrates an unprecedented growth in new registrations over the past 24 hours. Quite as if the defeat in court was a marketing coup. The Driver4U drivers continue to roll despite the ban.

Variant 2: This variant is the basis for the judgment, which is intended to create a livelihood for low-income earners such as taxis. This includes the assurance of a statutory minimum wage.

Anarchic behavior can score with customers
Following the description of the respective scenario, all study participants received a questionnaire. The result: In the case of the anarchic behavior of the company, the subjects are more willing to use the offer than in the case of the lawful behavior. This effect would be further reinforced if the transposed legislation was to be regarded as illegitimate, “says Prof. Dr. Büttgen.

In the combination of variants where the verdict is based on the historical Reichsverordnung and Driver4U simply ignores it, the interviewees then also perceive the service offered by the company as more useful and would rather recommend it. A repentant company, which has a heart for low-income earners, would regard the subjects as less useful and would hardly recommend it.

“Both the factors that we have varied in the experiment – the anarchic behavior and the legitimacy of the broken legal regulation – can therefore be of significance for the economic success of Startup companies. Anarchically acting companies are considered rebellious and can benefit from this cool factor with their potential customers, “the researcher emphasizes.


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