In the last decade we have observed an increasing number of people in cities around the world staying in other people’s homes using Airbnb, joining strangers for a ride with BlaBlaBla car, renting city bikes to run errands or do sightseeing, or even borrowing garden tools from a neighbour. Digital technology helps us connect with strangers and borrow their homes, cars, tools, clothes, accessories and toys. It also helps us offer items we do not use often for others to use.
Viewing entries in
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.
Literature acknowledges the semantic confusion surrounding the sharing economy. Recognising disconnect between the practices being included as part of the sharing economy and its purported sustainability potential, this research sought to synthesise a definition of the sharing economy that prioritised sustainability. Our research began with a systematic literature review. We used NVivo, a software to support analysis of qualitative data, to identify and synthesis the definitions of ‘sharing economy’ included in each article. In this post, we provide our definition, discuss its implications on how the sharing economy has been conceptualised this far, and provide access to our latest publication.