Urban Sharing Team is on the way home from the project’s first Mobile Research Lab in Amsterdam and while they are reflecting on their impressions from sharing economy in Amsterdam we have a chance to have a look at how their trip has been. Every day between the 8 and 12 of April was packed with interviews, meetings, discussions with Amsterdam city officials, researchers from Utrecht and Twente universities, national organisations lobbying sharing economy, national research institutes, and of course with urban sharing organisations themselves.
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Sharing economy companies have found a way to enter existing markets with historically high entry barriers. Take for example Airbnb, an “accommodation sharing” platform, which has gained more market worth than the world’s fourth largest hotel chain Marriot. While Airbnb was founded only in 2008, Marriot has been around since 1927. Some call the uptake of sharing platforms a “market disruption.” Along with Airbnb, Uber, the taxi-hailing company, is also often mentioned. However, there is more to the sharing economy than Airbnb and Uber, and there is more to the disruption than the talked-about market disruption.
At the start of the project we are revising methods that we are to employ in the project. One of our methods for collecting empirical data is the so-called Mobile Research Lab. The method of “mobile research lab” builds on the idea and term coined by Harriet Bulkeley (Durham University) and Johannes Stripple (Lund University) to represent a type of research activity when an interdisciplinary group of researchers visits various sites to study a certain phenomenon in a city.