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Regulating the Sharing Economy: A Field perspective

Prof. Dr. Stefan Kirchner (ECDF) and Elke Schüßler took a close look at the principle of Sharing Economy. In their article "Regulating the Sharing Economy: A Field Perspective" they state that Sharing Economy must be seen as a field in which diverse actors react to each other. The development of power dynamics and sustainable alternatives thus depends on how the expanded field of the Sharing Economy functions as a whole.

Sharing Economy - that is how economists describe the principle of the joint use of goods through sharing, exchanging, lending, renting or donating, as well as the provision of services. More and more people around the world are becoming enthusiastic about this idea, which is often based on attitudes that are critical to consumption and growth. Property is often seen not only as unnecessary but also as a burden. However, critics are increasingly highlighting the downsides of the sharing economy, which result from the inadequate regulation of competition, labor or taxes in its profit-oriented sector.

In the article "Regulating the Sharing Economy: A Field Perspective" ECDF Professor Stefan Kirchner and co-author Elke Schüßler argue that regulatory solutions for the Sharing Economy depend on understanding the way it is organized. Here, digitalization undermines established regulation through underlying organizational shifts pertaining to places, labor inputs and output responsibilities. Mapping out the field of actors that are or could be involved in regulating the sharing economy, the authors highlight a particular role played not only by digital platforms as market organizers, but also of a variety of other public and private actors such as standard setting organizations, social movements, trade unions, organized buyers and sellers, incumbents, or policy makers. The authors suggest that an understanding of sharing economy markets as fields can not only capture the highly organized nature of the sharing economy, but also serve to untangle the contestations and power dynamics unfolding among various actors engaged in different regulatory issues associated with the sharing economy. Seeing “Uberization” as a next development stage away from the modern corporation after global supply chains, the authors highlight regulatory challenges associated with the even more individualized and dispersed way in which sharing economy markets are organized and also discuss new opportunities for regulation provided by digital technology.

The article is part of "Theorizing the Sharing Economy: Variety and Trajectories of New Forms of Organizing: Volume 66". It can be found //here.