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Sharing economy (also known as shareconomy or collaborative consumption) refers to peer-to-peer-based sharing of access to goods and services (coordinated through community-based online services). Sharing economy can take a variety of forms, including using information technology to provide individuals, corporations, non-profits and governments with information that enables the optimization of resources through the redistribution, sharing and reuse of excess capacity in goods and services. A common premise is that when information about goods is shared (typically via an online marketplace), the value of those goods may increase for the business, for individuals, for the community and for society in general.
Collaborative consumption as a phenomenon is a class of economic arrangements in which participants share access to products or services, rather than having individual ownership. The consumer peer-to-peer rental market is valued at $26bn (£15bn), with new services and platforms popping up all the time.
The collaborative consumption model is used in online marketplaces such as eBay as well as emerging sectors such as social lending, peer-to-peer accommodation, peer-to-peer travel experiences, peer-to-peer task assignments or travel advising, car sharing or commute-bus sharing.
- 1 Scope
- 2 Types of collaborative consumption
- 3 History
- 4 Driving forces
- 5 Benefits of a sharing economy
- 6 Transport
- 7 Criticism and controversies
- 8 Organizations advocating and networking sharing economy
- 9 Types of sharing
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes and references
- 12 Further reading
The sharing economy encompasses a wide range of structures including for-profit, non-profit, barter and co-operative structures. The sharing economy provides expanded access to products, services and talent beyond one to one or singular ownership, sometimes referred to as "disownership". Corporations, governments and individuals all actively participate as buyers, sellers, lenders or borrowers in these varied and evolving organizational structures.
Types of collaborative consumption
Goods that are privately owned can be shared or rented out via peer-to-peer marketplaces. (E.g. BMW's "Drive Now" is a car sharing service that offers an alternative to owning a car. Users can access a car when and where they need them and pay for their usage by the minute.)
A system of collaborative consumption is based on used or pre-owned goods being passed on from someone who does not want them to someone who does want them. This is another alternative to the more common 'reduce, reuse, recycle, repair' methods of dealing with waste. In some markets, the goods may be free, as on Freecycle and Kashless. In others, the goods are swapped (as on Swap.com) or sold for cash (as on eBay, craigslist, and uSell). There are a growing number of specialist marketplaces for preowned fashion items, including Copious, Vestiaire Collective, BuyMyWardrobe and Grand Circle. Additional forms of redistribution markets include ReHome (a free pet redistribution service by PetBridge.org).
This system is based on people with similar needs or interests banding together to share and exchange less-tangible assets such as time, space, skills, and money. An example would be Taskrabbit, which match users that need tasks done with "runners" who earn money by helping them complete their to-do lists. The growth of mobile technology provides a platform to enable location-based GPS technology and to also provide real-time sharing.
The term "sharing economy" began to appear in the mid-2000s, as new business structures emerged inspired by enabling social technologies and an increasing sense of urgency around global population growth and resource depletion. One inspiration was the tragedy of the commons, which refers to the idea that when we all act solely in our self-interest, we deplete the shared resources we need for our own quality of life. The Harvard law professor, Yochai Benkler, one of the earliest proponents of open source software, posited that network technology could mitigate this issue through what he called 'commons-based peer production', a concept first articulated in 2002. Benkler then extended that analysis to "shareable goods" in Sharing Nicely: On Shareable goods and the emergence of sharing as a modality of economic production.
The term "collaborative consumption" was coined by Marcus Felson and Joe L. Spaeth in their paper “Community Structure and Collaborative Consumption: A routine activity approach" published in 1978 in the American Behavioral Scientist. The term was used in more contemporary times by Ray Algar, a UK-based management consultant in an article entitled "Collaborative Consumption" in the Leisure Report Journal in 2007.
The UK Government in its 2015 Budget set out objectives improve economic growth including to make Britain the "...best place in the world to start, invest in, and grow a business, including through a package of measures to help unlock the potential of the sharing economy...":4
In 2015, The Business of Sharing by Alex Stephany, CEO of JustPark, was published by Palgrave Macmillan. The book features interviews with the high-profile entrepreneurs such as Martin Varsavsky and venture capitalists such as Fred Wilson.
These models also use a two-sided marketplace to enable individuals to contribute funds to entrepreneurs, artists, civic programs and projects.
Transparent and open data
Many state, local and federal governments are engaged in Open Data initiatives and projects such as data.gov and the London Data Store. The theory of open or 'transparent' access to information enables greater innovation, and makes for more efficient use of products and services, and thus supporting resilient communities.
The Sharing Economy relies on the will of the users to share, but in order to make an exchange, users have to be trustworthy. Sharing economy organizations say they are committed to building and validating trusted relationships between members of their community, including producers, suppliers, customers or participants.
Unused value is wasted value
Unused value refers to the time that products, services and talents lay idle. This idle time is wasted value that mesh models businesses and organizations utilize. The classic example is that the average car is unused 92% of the time. This wasted value has created a significant opportunity for share economy car solutions. There is also significant unused value in "wasted time" as articulated by Clay Shirky in his analysis of power of "crowds" connected by information technology. Many of us have unused capacity in the course of our day. With social media and information technology, we can easily donate small slivers of time to take care of simple tasks others need doing. Examples of these crowd sourced solutions include the for-profit Amazon Mechanical Turk and the non-profit Ushahidi.
Waste as food
Waste is commonly considered as something that is no longer wanted and needs to be discarded. The challenge with this point of view is that much of what we define as waste still has value that, with proper design and distribution, can safely serve as "nutrients" for follow-on processes, unlocking new levels of value in increasingly scarce and expensive resources. One example is "heirloom design" as articulated by physicist and inventor Saul Griffith.
The driving forces behind the rise of sharing economy organizations and businesses include:
- Information Technology and Social Media: A host of enabling technologies has reached the mainstream, making it easy for networks of people and organizations to transact directly. These include open data, the ubiquity and low-cost of mobile phones, and social media. These technologies dramatically reduce the friction of share-based business and organizational models.
- Increasing Volatility in Cost of Natural Resources: Rising prosperity across the developing world coupled with population growth is putting greater strain on natural resources and has caused a spike in costs and market volatility. This has been increasing pressure on traditional manufactures to seek design, production and distribution alternatives that will stabilize costs and smooth projected expenditures. In this context, the circular economy approach has been gaining interest among many global corporate actors. While a handful of pioneering companies are leading the way, wider adoption will rely on mesh economy skills such as the collection and sharing of data, the spread of best practices and increased collaboration.
- Forbes estimates the revenue flowing through the share economy will surpass $3.5 billion in 2013 with growth exceeding 25%.
Benefits of a sharing economy
By sharing transportation and assets the benefits of a sharing economy are said to include the following:
- Reducing negative environmental impact (such as reducing the carbon footprint and consumption of resources)
- Stronger communities
- Saving costs by borrowing and recycling items
- Providing people with access to goods who can't afford buying them or have no interest in long-term usage
- Increased independence, flexibility and self-reliance by decentralization, the abolition of certain entry-barriers and self-organization
- Increased participatory democracy
- Accelerating sustainable consumption and production patterns in cities around the globe 
Researcher Christopher Koopman, an author of a study by George Mason University economists, said the sharing economy "allows people to take idle capital and turn them into revenue sources." He has stated, "People are taking spare bedroom[s], cars, tools they are not using and becoming their own entrepreneurs." Arun Sundararajan, a New York University economist who studies the sharing economy, told a January congressional hearing that "this transition will have a positive impact on economic growth and welfare, by stimulating new consumption, by raising productivity, and by catalyzing individual innovation and entrepreneurship".
Using a personal car to transport passengers or deliveries requires payment, or sufferance, of costs for fees deducted by the dispatching company, fuel, wear and tear, depreciation, interest, taxes, and adequate insurance. The driver is typically not paid for driving to an area where fares might be found in the volume necessary for high earnings, or driving to the location of a pickup or returning from a drop-off point. Mobile apps have been written that help a driver be aware of and manage such costs has been introduced.
Criticism and controversies
The Harvard Business Review argues that "sharing economy" is a misnomer, and that the correct word for this activity is "Access economy." The authors say, "When “sharing” is market-mediated — when a company is an intermediary between consumers who don’t know each other — it is no longer sharing at all. Rather, consumers are paying to access someone else’s goods or services." The article goes on to show that companies (such as Uber) who understand this, and whose marketing highlights the financial benefits to participants, are successful, while companies (such as Lyft) whose marketing highlights the social benefits of the service are less successful.
Salon writes that "the sharing economy ... [is] not the Internet 'gift economy' as originally conceived, a utopia in which we all benefit from our voluntary contributions. It’s something quite different — the relentless co-optation of the gift economy by market capitalism. The sharing economy, as practiced by Silicon Valley, is a betrayal of the gift economy. The potlatch has been paved over, and replaced with a digital shopping mall."
Andrew Leonard, Evgeny Morozov, Bernard Marszalek, Dean Baker, and Andrew Keen criticized the for-profit sector of the sharing economy, writing that sharing economy businesses "extract" profits from their given sector by "successfully [making] an end run around the existing costs of doing business" - taxes, regulations, and insurance.
Susie Cagle wrote that the benefits big sharing economy players might be making for themselves are "not exactly" trickling down, and that the sharing economy "doesn’t build trust" because where it builds new connections, it often "replicates old patterns of privileged access for some, and denial for others." William Alden wrote that "The so-called sharing economy is supposed to offer a new kind of capitalism, one where regular folks, enabled by efficient online platforms, can turn their fallow assets into cash machines ... But the reality is that these markets also tend to attract a class of well-heeled professional operators, who outperform the amateurs — just like the rest of the economy."
New York Magazine wrote that the sharing economy has succeeded in large part because the real economy has been struggling. Specifically, in the magazine's view, the sharing economy succeeds because of a depressed labor market, in which "lots of people are trying to fill holes in their income by monetizing their stuff and their labor in creative ways," and that in many cases, people join the sharing economy because they've recently lost a full-time job, including a few cases where the pricing structure of the sharing economy may have made their old jobs less profitable (e.g. full-time taxi drivers who may have switched to Lyft or Uber). The magazine writes that "In almost every case, what compels people to open up their homes and cars to complete strangers is money, not trust. ... Tools that help people trust in the kindness of strangers might be pushing hesitant sharing-economy participants over the threshold to adoption. But what's getting them to the threshold in the first place is a damaged economy, and harmful public policy that has forced millions of people to look to odd jobs for sustenance."
Business Insider wrote that companies such as Airbnb and Uber do not share their reputation data with the very users who it belongs to. This is an issue since no matter how well you behave on any one platform, your reputation doesn’t travel with you. This fragmentation has some negative consequences, such as the Airbnb squatters who had previously deceived Kickstarter users to the tune of $40,000. Sharing data between these platforms could have prevented the repeat incident. Business Insider’s view is that since the Sharing Economy is in its infancy, this has been accepted. However, as the industry matures, this will need to change.
Giana Eckhardt and Fleura Bardhi say that the sharing economy promotes and prioritizes cheap fares and low costs rather than personal relationships, which is tied to similar issues in crowdsourcing. For example, Zipcar is advertised as a ride-sharing service, but it’s been brought into consideration that the consumers reap similar benefits from Zipcar as they would from, say, a hotel. In this example, there is minimal social interaction going on and the primary concern is the low cost. Other examples many include myriad other sharing economies such as AirBnB or Uber. Because of this, the “sharing economy” may not be about sharing but rather about access. Giana Eckhardt and Fleura Bardhi say the "sharing" economy has taught people to prioritize cheap and easy access over interpersonal communication, and the value of going the extra mile for those interactions has diminished.
The local economic benefit of the sharing economy is offset by its current form, which is that huge tech companies reap a great deal of the profit in many cases. For example, Uber, which is estimated to be worth $50B as of mid-2015, takes up to 30% commission from the gross revenue of its drivers, leaving many drivers making less than minimum wage.
The Daily Beast wrote that the sharing economy is set up for people who are healthy and able-bodied. There aren’t many wheelchair-capable Lyft cars. And, according to longtime disability rights activist Bob Planthold, Airbnb and VRBO aren’t doing much for the disabled community, either. For less money than a traditional hotel room, Airbnb users stay in short-term apartment rentals in the neighborhoods of their choice. The website’s search filters do include a “Wheelchair Accessible” option, but ever since Airbnb’s website redesign in July, this option has been virtually buried from view. It took me three separate attempts on Airbnb’s site to locate the accessibility filter, by clicking the “More Filters” tab, then scrolling through the amenities list until we reached the very end.
Organizations advocating and networking sharing economy
- OuiShare: A French-based non-for-profit aiming to connect efforts within the Sharing or Collaborative Economy to create a global network of collaborators. Having started in France in 2012, they have spread to Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
- Shareable: "Shareable is a nonprofit news, action and connection hub for the sharing transformation", and the primary global online magazine on the Sharing Economy.
- Echo (Economy of Hours): A UK based non-profit providing infrastructure to, and lobbying at national level on behalf of, local time banking projects. Echo develops systems for local projects to become part of national networks, aggregating offers and requests, and a commercial B2B model to provide long term sustainability to time banks. Echo has introduced non-profits, businesses and corporates to time banking as a legitimate way of doing business, with the aim of dissolving the distinction between the personal and the professional, resulting in a comprehensive marketplace without money.
- European Sharing Economy Coalition: The Coalition is the first multi-stakeholder European network created to mature policies, markets and sectors in Europe for the Sharing Economy to become mainstream.
Types of sharing
- Access economy
- Collaborative finance
- Collaborative innovation network
- Commons-based peer production
- Creative Commons
- Digital Collaboration
- Internet of Things
- Internet of Services
- Open Knowledge Foundation
- Open Source
- P2P Foundation
- Peer-to-peer (meme)
- Reputation capital
- Reputation systems
- Secondhand good
- Social collaboration
- Social commerce
- Social dining
- Social Peer-to-Peer Processes
- Two-sided market
Notes and references
- Hamari, Juho; Sjöklint, Mimmi; Ukkonen, Antti (2015). "The Sharing Economy: Why People Participate in Collaborative Consumption". Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. doi:10.1002/asi.23552.
- Cohen, Boyd; Kietzmann, Jan (2014). "Ride On! Mobility Business Models for the Sharing Economy". Organization & Environment 27 (3),279-296. doi:10.1177/1086026614546199.
- Sundararajan, Arun. "From Zipcar to the Sharing Economy". January 3, 2013. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- Geron, Tomio (November 9, 2012). "Airbnb Had $56 Million Impact On San Francisco: Study". Forbes. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- Botsman, Rachel; Roger, Roos (2011). What's Mine Is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption is Changing the Way We Live. HarperCollins Business. ISBN 0007395914.
- "Harvard Business School Club of New York - What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption". Hbscny.org. 2011-06-16. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- Friedman, Thomas (20 July 2013). "Welcome to the Sharing Economy". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
- Rosenberg, Tina (5 June 2013). "It's Not Just Nice to Share, It's the Future". The New York Times.
- Wang, Ray. "Monday’s Musings: Four Elements for A #SharingEconomy Biz Model In #MatrixCommerce". May 26, 2013. Software Insider. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- "The Collaborative Economy". June 4, 2013. Altimeter Group. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- Rachel BotsmanRoo Rogers (1922-01-01). "Beyond Zipcar: Collaborative Consumption". Hbr.org. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- "DriveNow: BMW and Sixt Joint Venture for premium car sharing".
- Owyang, Jeremiah (24 February 2015). "The mobile technology stack for the Collaborative Economy". VentureBeat. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
- Benkler, Yochai (2002). "Coase’s Penguin, or, Linux and The Nature of the Firm" (PDF). The Yale Law Journal 112. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- Benkler, Yochai (2004). "Sharing Nicely: On Shareable goods and the emergence of sharing as a modality of economic production". The Yale Law Journal 114. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- Felson, Marcus and Joe L. Spaeth (1978), “Community Structure and Collaborative Consumption: A routine activity approach,” American Behavioral Scientist, 21 (March–April), 614–24.
- "Collaborative Consumption by Ray Algar — Oxygen Consulting". Oxygen-consulting.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- "10 Ideas That Will Change The World". Time. March 17, 2011.
- "Support for the sharing economy" (PDF). H. M. Treasury, Budget 2015, section 1.193.
- "Review: The Business Of Sharing". May 5, 2015.
- Karim R. Lakhani (1922-01-01). "Using the Crowd as an Innovation Partner". Hbr.org. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- Mazmanian, Adam (May 22, 2013). "Can open data change the culture of government?". Federal Computer Week.
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- Brindley, William. "How Open Data can Save Lives". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- Charles, Green (May 2, 2012). "Trusted and Being Trusted in the Sharing Economy". Forbes. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- "Car Sharing and Pooling: Reducing Car Over-Population and Collaborative Consumption | Energy Seminar". Energyseminar.stanford.edu. 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- Boudreau, Kevin; Karim R. Lakhani. "Using the Crowd as an Innovation Partner". April 2013. Harvard Business Review.
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- Geron, Tobio (January 23, 2013). "Airbnb and the Unstoppable Rise of the Share Economy". Forbes. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- Brady, Diane (24 September 2014). "The Environmental Case for the Sharing Economy". Bloomberg. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- Rudenko, Anna (16 August 2013). "The collaborative consumption on the rise: why shared economy is winning over the "capitalism of me"". Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- Parsons, Adam (5 March 2014). "The sharing economy: a short introduction to its political evolution". opendemocracy.net. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- Bradshaw, Della (22 April 2015). "Sharing economy benefits lower income groups". FT.com. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- Williams-Grut, Oscar (20 March 2015). "Silicon Round-up: Blockchain banking to be on the slate for new regulator?". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- Cohen, Boyd; Muñoz, Pablo (2015). "Sharing cities and sustainable consumption and production: towards an integrated framework". Journal of Cleaner Production. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.07.133.
- Afp (2015-02-03). "'Sharing economy' reshapes markets, as complaints rise | Daily Mail Online". London: Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- "Uber Said to Seek $1.5 Billion in Funds at $50 Billion Valuation". Bloomberb Business. 2015-05-19. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
- Emily Guendelsberger (May 7, 2015). "I was an undercover Uber driver". Philadelphia Citypaper. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
- Natasha Singer and Mike Isaac (May 9, 2015). "An App That Helps Drivers Earn the Most From Their Trips". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2015.
At first I thought I was earning money
- "The Sharing Economy Isn’t About Sharing at All". Harvard Business Review. 2015-01-28. Retrieved 2015-07-11.
- Andrew Leonard, "Sharing economy" shams: Deception at the core of the Internet’s hottest businesses, Salon.com, 2014.03.14
- Andrew Leonard, You’re not fooling us, Uber! 8 reasons why the “sharing economy” is all about corporate greed, Salon.com, 2014.02.17
- Tom Slee, The secret libertarianism of Uber & Airbnb, Salon.com, 2014.01.28
- Anya Kamenetz, AirBnb wins New York court victory, but the city still present challenges for the popular room-finding site, Fast Company and Salon, 2013.09.30
- Millennials will not be regulated, Andrew Leonard, Salon.com, 2013.09.20
- The sharing economy muscles up, Andrew Leonard, Salon.com, 2013.09.17
- Libertarians’ anti-government crusade: Now there’s an app for that (2014-06-27), Andrew Leonard, Salon
- Evgeny Morozov. Don't believe the hype, the 'sharing economy' masks a failing economy (September 2014), The Guardian (UK)
- The New Boss – You – Just Like the Old Boss: The Sharing Economy = Brand Yourself (2014.05.26), BERNARD MARSZALEK, CounterPunch
- How AirBnB and Uber Cab are Facilitating Rip-Offs: The Downside of the Sharing Economy (2014.05.28), Dean Baker, CounterPunch
- How Uber Distrupts the Taxi Market (2015.02.12), Dean Baker, CounterPunch
- The Internet is not the Answer, an interview with Andrew Keen at the Digital Life Design (DLD) 2015 Annual Conference. Posted on the official You Tube Channel of DLD
- The Case Against Sharing: On access, scarcity, and trust (2014-05-28), Susie Cagle, Medium.com
- The Business Tycoons of Airbnb, The New York Times
- Kevin Roose, The Sharing Economy Isn’t About Trust, It’s About Desperation (2014-04-24), New York Magazine
- Kevin Roose, Does Silicon Valley Have a Contract-Worker Problem? (2014-09-18), New York Magazine
- A Secret of Uber's Success: Struggling Workers (2014-10-02), Bloomberg.com
- Kevin Montgomery, Airbnb Squatters Also Swindled $40,000 From Kickstarter, 2014-07-28
- Patrick J. Stewart, Reputation And The Sharing Economy (2014-10-23), "Business Insider
- Giana Eckhardt and Fleura Bardhi, The Sharing Economy isn't About Sharing at All (2015-02-09), Harvard Business Review
- Afp (2015-02-03). "'Sharing economy' reshapes markets, as complaints rise | Daily Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- Huet, Ellen (2015-05-18). "Uber Tests Taking Even More From Its Drivers With 30% Commission". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
- "A Philadelphia journalist went undercover as an Uber driver — here's how much she made". MSN. 2015-05-09. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
- "Connecting the Collaborative Economy". OuiShare.net. 2013-11-21. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- "Shareable". Shareable.net. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- "About". Shareable.net. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- "Banking Time". Economyofhours.com. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- "Our Vision". Economyofhours.com. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- "About us". Economyofhours.com. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
|Look up sharing economy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- A Policy Agenda for the Sharing Economy, The Urbanist, October 2012
- Kostakis, V., and Bauwens, M. (2014) Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
- All Eyes on the Sharing Economy, The Economist, March 9, 2013
- The Twilight of the Sharing Economy—or the Dawn?, The Atlantic, May 7, 2013
- The End of Ownership, Boston Magazine, May 2013
- Leonard, Andrew (January 2012). "The Economy of Sharing". Sunset Magazine.
- Nanos, Janelle (May 2013). "The End of Ownership". Boston Magazine.
- The Sharing Economy: Embracing Change with Caution, Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum, June 2015
- Adapting to the Sharing Economy, MIT Sloan Management Review, 56(2), 2015, S. 71-77.