“You can't manage what you can't measure.”

This quote by Peter Drucker, a management thinker, very well summarises our motivations to investigate the implications of the sharing economy (SE).

In Urban Sharing project, our aim is to analyse sharing economy in different cities across the world. One of the key objectives is to investigate the social, economic and environmental implications of SE in order to help devise regulatory and institutional mechanisms to mitigate the negative impacts and/or support the positive impacts of SE.

For the past few years, SE has been gaining popularity across different spheres of business and society. SE has been rapidly expanding in many sectors of economy due to its promising economic discourse for both the providers as well as the users.

Indeed, in recent years SE has made headlines in news across several cities – some were the success stories while others were in conflict with the key promises of SE. This is due to the multifaceted impacts of this new form of consumption on the society that has power to disrupt well-established institutions and businesses in society (Figure 1).

 Figure 1.

Figure 1.

The nature of sustainability implications of SE in a given city largely depend on types of business models and the city’s cultural values, socio-demographical situation, and institutional and regulatory structures. It is therefore imperative to understand the city context in SE and its role in driving the sharing practise and its impacts.

In our research group, we have been working on understanding how the city context influences the dynamics of the sharing and its sustainability impacts. For this purpose, we have developed qualitative inference diagrams depicting various cause and effect relationships, and feedback structures by systematically linking social, economic and environmental aspects of SE (Figure 2).

 Figure 2

Figure 2

Based on these, we have devised a framework to monitor the state of sharing in a given city. In order to evaluate the contribution of sharing to sustainability challenges, impacts and solutions, our team has identified several indicators for social, economic and environmental impacts of sharing in mobility, accommodation and physical goods sectors. In our upcoming Mobile Research Lab, we will test this framework in understanding the development of sharing in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Stay tuned for more updates!

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