Sharing economy platforms facilitate people’s sharing of underutilized resources by adding value to their users, such as reducing transaction costs and building trust. However, it is discovered by practitioners that users may actually bypass, or “disintermediate”, the platforms to strike direct deals on their own. This phenomenon motivates this research-in-progress to understand sharing economy user bypassing behaviour. Specifically, we investigate their motivations of bypassing and behavioral strategies of overcoming trust barriers. Drawing insights from disintermediation literature, we conduct a single case study on Airbnb, a renowned accommodation sharing platform. Our preliminary findings show that Airbnb hosts have non-economic motivation to bypass the platform, and they are able to overcome trust barriers through leveraging the unbundling of intermediary functions. Upon completion of the research, the study is expected to make three theoretical contributions: uncovering the loopholes in sharing economy business models, augmenting predominant economic view of disintermediation, and proposing a “spillover effect” of embedded relationship on economic action.

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