The importance of balancing past and present in sharing economy apps2023-01-18
According to the study “Sharing economy platforms as mainstream: balancing pro-social and economic tensions”, there are tensions between the digital and the old ways of sharing things.
- Sharing economy platforms are erasing the borders between personal/social norms and market norms in commercial exchanges, says Hugo Guyader, senior lecturer in Business Administration at Linköping University and former visiting researcher at Karlstad University, who has conducted this study with Margareta Friman and Lars E Olsson, both professors of Psychology at the Service Research Center (CTF).
What kind of tensions?
- Before the sharing economy era, people helped each other out by driving friends to the airport, they took care of each other’s dogs while they were away and borrowed each other’s cars, says Hugo Guyader. These days, companies such as Uber, DogVacay and Snappcar are making money on these digital peer to peer (P2P) practices. These services enable informal sharing methods and exchanges of services between strangers, although with the end goal of making money.
What were your findings?
- Related to the tension between these norms, we examined four main factors that influence carpooling, says Hugo Guyader. A prosocial sharing ethos was examined by measuring grass roots involvement and sharing orientation, while a market ethos was examined by measuring life style trends and so-called sharewashing, which is the lack of authenticity in the sharing economy.
- We found that the grass root involvement of the platform, its authenticity in relation to basic values, as well as people's individual sharing orientation, strongly affect attitudes to sharing economy platforms. Trends in sharing economy and life styles are not important factors, however.
Did the findings surprise you in any way?
- No, we build our hypotheses on previous research and expertise within the transport sector, says Hugo Guyader. We didn’t know exactly how influential the various factors would be, but expected that these relationships to be there.
Why is it important that the values of the sharing economy are present in digital apps and tools?
- It’s important that sharing economy platforms stay true to its original values, says Hugo Guyader. In our context, with carpooling, most people thought it more important to preserve the environmental and social values that were the core of carpooling in the 90s and 00s, than that the service is profitable.
What would be the ultimate sharing economy app?
- We are researchers, not entrepreneurs, says Hugo Guyader. But our findings could help grass roots movements and other initiatives from civil society. That being said, it’s important to develop a long-term business model to not end up in a situation where you have to rely on subsidies. It’s also important to create and maintain a strong sense of community among users with similar values, and to involve these core users so that they can help new users as the community grows.
The strength of cooperation
- One of the strengths in this study is that it’s a collaboration between different disciplines, says Lars E Olson. A collaborative effort between expertise on sharing economy, transportation research and psychology. It’s a successful example of the results of inviting visiting researchers from other fields to our research environments at Karlstad University, in this case CTF. This collaborative approach has also resulted in us being editors for a special issue about Shared Mobility, with 13 articles by 29 authors in 7 different countries. We look forward to continued cooperation, as well as the opportunity to work with other visiting researchers in the future.