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Innovation in pandemics: a netnographic approach to the sharing economy contributions

Fernando Belezas (Department of Economics, Management, Industrial Engineering and Tourism, Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal)
Ana Daniel (Department of Social, Political and Territorial Sciences, Research Unit on Governance, Competitiveness and Public Policies (GOVCOPP), University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal)

Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management

ISSN: 2053-4620

Article publication date: 12 July 2021




Pandemics are a serious challenge for humanity, as their social and economic impacts can be tremendous. This study aims to understand how innovation based in the sharing economy (SE) business models can contribute to overcoming the challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.


Following a netnographic approach, the authors studied the computer-mediated social interactions of internet-based virtual innovation communities.


This study found that the SE business models contribute to overcome the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic by redistributing idle resources to lessen the impacts of confinement. This was achieved through process innovations and an innovative use of the network, which enabled fast-open and decentralized innovation processes, and quick implementation of innovations. This innovation process is based on a decentralized decision-making approach, clear rules, informal relationship among community members and open communication channels, as well as in evasive strategies to avoid facing challenges, institutional restrictions and barriers in the adoption of innovations.

Research limitations/implications

This study was limited to a virtual innovation community of highly specialized and educated experts and nine community projects focused on institutional contexts of a developed country. Future research should focus on the institutional contexts of less specialized communities and developing countries and study other community innovation projects in pandemics to understand the processes of fast-open, decentralized and evasive innovation and the importance of relational capabilities for innovation in digital contexts.

Practical implications

The findings can guide innovation managers and public policymakers in implementing effective strategies and policies to overcome pandemic challenges using SE business models. This research also provides important insights into the types and processes of innovation in organizations that create solutions to overcome social and business challenges during pandemics. In addition, this study highlights the contributions of netnographic approaches to conducting research on innovation and in pandemic periods when measures of confinement are in place.


This study uses an innovative framework to map the types of innovation and highlights two different types of innovation processes.



Belezas, F. and Daniel, A. (2021), "Innovation in pandemics: a netnographic approach to the sharing economy contributions", Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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