Mapping the sharing economy for sustainability research

Purpose: In order to guide sustainability research on the sharing economy, the purpose of this paper is to develop a comprehensive framework that captures the wide range of activities and business models that are considered to be part of the sharing economy. Design/methodology/approach: Based on a systematic literature review and a content analysis, existing typologies are identified and analyzed for their conceptual intersections. Finally, categorizations from 43 documents are integrated into one framework. Findings: Four main dimensions are identified as being used in different contexts to characterize sharing systems and were combined to form one comprehensive typology: shared good or service, market structure, market orientation, and industry sector. Originality/value: The proposed typology is able to distinguish sharing activities based on their similarities and differences. Social, economic, and communicational avenues for the term “sharing” are merged into a conceptual foundation of the sharing economy. This enables researchers, practitioners, and policy makers to position their projects in the broad field of sharing. By discussing inherent tensions with regard to sustainability of the sharing economy, the offered categorizations can help to guide future research and policy intervention. Last but not least, professional managers should find valuable ideas for new business models.

Plewnia, Frederik, and Edeltraud Guenther. 2018. “Mapping the sharing economy for sustainability research.” Management Decision 56 (3): 570–83.

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