First International Workshop on the Sharing Economy

4-5 June 2015, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

The sharing economy

The sharing economy is a fast-growing phenomenon. People increasingly share their home, car, clothing or tools on Internet platforms such as Airbnb, Relayrides, BlaBlaCar and Peerby. In a strict sense, the sharing economy can be defined as consumers granting each other (“peer-to-peer”) temporary access to their under-utilized physical assets, possibly for money. In a broader sense, the sharing economy also includes peer-to-peer services (Uber, Lending Club, Taskrabbit, Helpling), product-service systems (Zipcar, Philips Lighting) and redistribution markets (eBay, freecycling groups on Facebook).

Sharing practices yield promises and problems

Sharing potentially has a lot to offer to society: it promotes the efficient utilization of physical assets, it reduces their environmental impact and facilitates new social contacts. Along with its rapid growth, however, the sharing economy has also come under fire. This criticism focuses in particular on unfair competition between platforms and regular companies, overrated environmental gains, the tendency towards monopolies and the erosion of workers’ rights. In sum, sharing practices yield promises and problems, which only recently have become subject of scientific research. 

International workshop

The first international workshop on the sharing economy will explore these issues in more depth by discussing both conceptual reflections and empirical contributions. It will be held at Utrecht University on June 4 and 5. Over 40 papers from researchers from different disciplines and countries will be discussed. Keynotes will be delivered by Susan Shaheen and Juliet Schor. 



Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development - photo by Jerry van Dijk