Abstract

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that by mid-2021, 36 million refugees were forcibly displaced and relocated to other countries (UNHCR, 2022). Refugees must build new lives in a host country, often without the support of their social ties that once they had in their home countries. In addition, there are differences between refugees and the host society, such as language, culture, economic, etc. These differences and distances make the assimilation and integration process of refugees in the host country much harder, which will cause refugees as well as host societies issues and challenges (Andrade and Doolin, 2016). The above financial burdens and hardships associated with refugee resettlement have resulted in the use of various digital platforms by governments, institutions, for-profit and non-profit organizations. These digital platforms are often referred to as a place for exchanging goods, services and information between consumers and producers. Sharing economy platforms are one type of digital platforms and offer a wide range of products and services to help refugees resettle in a new country. Some good examples of sharing economy platforms include Train of Hope, AKA Uberification of Help and Refugees Welcome International. To contribute to the knowledge of factors influencing sharing economy success, we in this study focus on three important sharing economy concepts including social capital, sharing economy success, and technology affordance. More specifically, we examine the moderating effect of sharing economy platforms affordance on the relationship between refugees’ social capital in a host country and the success of sharing economy platforms. To examine how technology affordance influences the relationship between social capital and sharing economy success, we use the sharing economy platform Divar as our empirical setting. Our target group for data collection are those Afghan refugees who reside in Iran, and Divar has secured the largest user base, over 35 million, in Iran. We reviewed extant literature in information systems, management, and international business, and operationalize all the three concepts as formative constructs with multiple dimensions. More specifically, based on the work of Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998), the social capital construct includes three dimensions of structural capital, relational capital, and cognitive capital. The dimensions of the sharing economy success construct include cultural distance, economic distance, and cognitive distance (Hutzschenreuter et al., 2015). And technology affordance includes the dimensions of coordination, networking, mobilization, and access to resources (Bobsin et al., 2018). We believe this study has the potential to make several theoretical and practical contributions including 1) demonstrating the usefulness of affordance theory to understand the nature of the relationships between sharing economy platforms and the refugees using them, 2) showing how success in the sharing economy is related to shrinking the distances that keep refugees from fully integrating into a society’s social structure, 3) highlighting that strengthening structural capital, relational capital, and cognitive capital among users of sharing economy is imperative for sharing economy success, and 4) providing a rich analysis of the moderating effect of sharing economy platforms affordance on the relationship between refugees’ social capital in a host country and the success of sharing economy platforms.

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