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Research project: Scaling up the sharing economy

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There is a big momentum gathering behind the sharing economy theme. The sharing economy is the way to engage households, individuals and their idle resources in collaborative production, distribution and consumption of goods and services, via on-line platforms and mobile applications.


Among the most publicised examples worldwide are Airbnb (accommodation sharing), Zipcar (car sharing) and Taskrabbit (personal services). Typically, the sharing platform sites are set up to serve a particular city or region, with more successful ones being able to expand across multiple cities and countries. Most sharing platforms, however, are struggling to scale. This could be due to the intrinsic characteristics of the sharing platform itself related to its ability to build trust, or to manage resources in order to achieve critical mass of users. This could also be due to the deep socio-spatial embeddedness of some sharing platforms, which might make it difficult to expand in different contexts and across different locations.

Aim and Objectives

The overarching aim of the project is to develop a typology of different models and mechanisms of scaling up in the sharing economy. More specifically it will identify:

  • the types of sharing mechanisms that are generic and, therefore, can be replicated across different socio-spatial contexts;
  • the types of sharing mechanisms that are highly context-specific;
  • the types of relational actor characteristics, as well as policy and normative rules, that can facilitate scaling up.

Who will benefit

The project advances the current knowledge base on social innovation in general and digital sharing platforms in particular, both conceptually and at an applied level.

The project will help to expand the innovative capacity of businesses, public and third sector organisations, regulators, investors, entrepreneurs, households and individual citizens, by shedding light on the emerging socially innovative business models empowered by new digital technologies.

Making an impact

  • Dr Vadim Grinevich joins Nesta’s panel of experts to share his thoughts on how research can support the collaborative economy to create meaningful impact.
  • Dr Vadim Grinevich presents at Research Sessions at OuiShare Fest , the world's largest gathering of collaborative economy visionaries.
  • Dr Vadim Grinevich and Dr Franz Huber present at the First International Workshop on the Sharing Economy .
  • Dr Vadim Grinevich and Dr Franz Huber join the Scientific Committee of the 2nd International Workshop on the Sharing Economy .
  • Dr Vadim Grinevich presented the research findings at the end of the project event at Nesta on 2nd December 2015.
  • Dr Franz Huber led a public panel discussion on the project results and related sharing economy topics. This took place in Salzburg (Austria) in collaboration with the Australian cultural organisation Kunstbox, facilitating engagement with the general public.
  • Dr Vadim Grinevich keynotes at the Sharing Economy event organised by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Berlin.
  • The 3rd International Workshop on the Sharing Economy is coming to Southampton on 15-16 September 2016. Read Call papers here.

Register your interest

The project covers three sectors of the sharing economy in the UK:

  • transport,
  • real estate and
  • professional/personal services.

If you run a sharing economy business in one of those sectors and would like to share your views with us, please contact us .

We would also appreciate opinions of other stakeholders engaged with the sharing economy.

Conferences and events associated with this project:

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