"Perspectives on the Sharing Economy"

Call for Papers for a special issue in Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions

call for posters

Deadline: 1 March 2016

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. Though sharing practices are certainly not new, the phenomenon is showing an explosive growth concomitant with the advent of Internet platforms (Botsman and Rogers 2010). 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 monopoly and the erosion of workers’ rights (Schor 2014). In sum, sharing practices yield promises and problems, which only recently have become subject of scientific research. Clearly, there is a urgent need for a thorough and nuanced understanding of the sharing economy. This special issue will tackle the many sides of the sharing economy, looking at economic, social and environmental effects and discussing possible policies and regulations.

To define the scope of the special issue, we include studies on all four platforms as distinguished by Frenken et al. (2015), including sharing-economy platforms in a strict sense where consumers grant each other temporary access to their under-utilised goods (such as Airbnb or Relayrides), 2nd hands platforms where consumers sell or give away their goods to other consumers (such as E-bay an freecycling groups), on-demand service platforms where consumers deliver personal services to each other (such as UberPop or Taskrabbit), and finally business-to-consumer “product-service”  models where companies rent out their goods to consumers rather than selling them (such as Avis). We welcome contributions using any methodology and from all disciplines, including economics, sociology, political science, geography, history, anthropology, geography, management studies, innovation studies, and science & technology studies.

Among the questions are:

  1. What theoretical perspectives help to explain the nature and growth of the sharing economy?
  2. What are the economic, social and environmental impacts of the sharing economy?
  3. What are the business models in the sharing economy and why do some succeed and others do not?
  4. What are the governance modes of platforms and why do some succeed and other do not?
  5. How do sharing platforms disrupt existing industries?
  6. How can peer-to-peer sharing in consumption be applied in a business-to-business context?
  7. Why is sharing more popular in some industries and in some localities rather than in others?
  8. What are the institutional responses across industries and across localities?
  9. What are motivations and characteristics of sharing economy participants?
  10. What do sharing practices mean for the new product design?
  11. Is there a new role for consumers in the sharing economy?
  12. What is the relationship between the sharing economy and sustainability transitions?
  13. Are we observing fundamentally new ways of innovation in the sharing economy (open innovation, grassroots innovation, institutional entrepreneurship)?
  14. Does the sharing economy prepare the way for new forms of capitalism, or rather for "hyper-capitalism"?
  15. How does sharing affect inequality in society?


All those who attended the 1st International Workshop on the Sharing Economy in Utrecht (June 2015) or who will attend the 2nd edition in Paris (January 2016) are invited to submit their paper, as well as any other scholar who wishes to contribute. To ensure that all manuscripts are correctly identified for inclusion into the special issue you are editing, it is important that authors select SI: SHARINGECON when they reach the “Article Type” step in the submission process.

Open Access

The published articles will be available through Open Access for six months after the issue is published.


Guest editor: Koen Frenken (Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University & CIRCLE, Lund University), k.frenken@uu.nl.