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No shared vision for the sharing economy? : exploring the transformative potential of the non-profit sharing economy in Southern Sweden

Schickner, Annabel LU and Raggers, Sanne LU (2017) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20171
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Consumerism contributes to sustainability problems of social fragmentation and environmental degradation. In response to this the sharing economy is a relatively new and rapidly growing phenomenon. While the for-profit sharing economy has received considerable academic attention and critique, there is a lack of research that explores the alternative: the non-profit sharing economy. This paper addresses this research gap with the aim to contribute to future decision-making regarding how to unlock the sharing economy’ potential to transform consumerism. To do so, we analyse how non-profit sharing platforms’ (NPSPs) interaction with dominant institutions enables and constrains NPSPs’ potential to transform consumerism. Specifically, we... (More)
Consumerism contributes to sustainability problems of social fragmentation and environmental degradation. In response to this the sharing economy is a relatively new and rapidly growing phenomenon. While the for-profit sharing economy has received considerable academic attention and critique, there is a lack of research that explores the alternative: the non-profit sharing economy. This paper addresses this research gap with the aim to contribute to future decision-making regarding how to unlock the sharing economy’ potential to transform consumerism. To do so, we analyse how non-profit sharing platforms’ (NPSPs) interaction with dominant institutions enables and constrains NPSPs’ potential to transform consumerism. Specifically, we conduct a qualitative case study of the offline non-profit sharing economy in Lund and Malmö, drawing on both the Transformative Social Innovation framework (developed by TRANSIT) and the protective space concept from Strategic Niche Management. Based on qualitative in-depth interviews with the providers of nine NPSPs, and representatives of local government bodies, we find that: firstly, platforms providers and government bodies perceive different purposes of NPSPs. While platform providers see potential social and environmental benefits, government bodies also stress the need for economic benefits. Secondly, platform providers and government bodies perceive different enabling and constraining factors for NPSPs. Both agree that lack of financial self-sufficiency constitutes the biggest barrier, but while platform providers furthermore focus on small-scale barriers related to internal organisation, government bodies stress the influence of large-scale existing regulation and societal norms. Thirdly, and as result of the latter, platform providers and government bodies have very different visions of how to overcome perceived barriers. While platforms providers intend to improve internal organisation and inter-platform communication, government bodies predominantly perceive for-profit business models as the main solution. Furthermore, the findings point towards a communicative gap between platform providers and government bodies, hindering an effective exchange of their respective needs and wants. Currently, this gap appears to be substituted by the public and academic debate about the for-profit sharing economy. Consequently, current support strategies mostly take the form of short-term funding by the municipality and lack effective nurturing mechanisms to empower NPSPs. This hinders the non-profit sharing economy’s potential to be a sustainable pathway to transform consumerism. In order to unlock its transformative potential, we suggest to enhance communication between platform providers and government bodies. (Less)
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author
Schickner, Annabel LU and Raggers, Sanne LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
sharing economy, collaborative consumption, non-profit sharing, transformative social innovation, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2017:014
language
English
id
8912814
date added to LUP
2017-06-09 15:14:35
date last changed
2017-06-09 15:14:35
@misc{8912814,
  abstract     = {Consumerism contributes to sustainability problems of social fragmentation and environmental degradation. In response to this the sharing economy is a relatively new and rapidly growing phenomenon. While the for-profit sharing economy has received considerable academic attention and critique, there is a lack of research that explores the alternative: the non-profit sharing economy. This paper addresses this research gap with the aim to contribute to future decision-making regarding how to unlock the sharing economy’ potential to transform consumerism. To do so, we analyse how non-profit sharing platforms’ (NPSPs) interaction with dominant institutions enables and constrains NPSPs’ potential to transform consumerism. Specifically, we conduct a qualitative case study of the offline non-profit sharing economy in Lund and Malmö, drawing on both the Transformative Social Innovation framework (developed by TRANSIT) and the protective space concept from Strategic Niche Management. Based on qualitative in-depth interviews with the providers of nine NPSPs, and representatives of local government bodies, we find that: firstly, platforms providers and government bodies perceive different purposes of NPSPs. While platform providers see potential social and environmental benefits, government bodies also stress the need for economic benefits. Secondly, platform providers and government bodies perceive different enabling and constraining factors for NPSPs. Both agree that lack of financial self-sufficiency constitutes the biggest barrier, but while platform providers furthermore focus on small-scale barriers related to internal organisation, government bodies stress the influence of large-scale existing regulation and societal norms. Thirdly, and as result of the latter, platform providers and government bodies have very different visions of how to overcome perceived barriers. While platforms providers intend to improve internal organisation and inter-platform communication, government bodies predominantly perceive for-profit business models as the main solution. Furthermore, the findings point towards a communicative gap between platform providers and government bodies, hindering an effective exchange of their respective needs and wants. Currently, this gap appears to be substituted by the public and academic debate about the for-profit sharing economy. Consequently, current support strategies mostly take the form of short-term funding by the municipality and lack effective nurturing mechanisms to empower NPSPs. This hinders the non-profit sharing economy’s potential to be a sustainable pathway to transform consumerism. In order to unlock its transformative potential, we suggest to enhance communication between platform providers and government bodies.},
  author       = {Schickner, Annabel and Raggers, Sanne},
  keyword      = {sharing economy,collaborative consumption,non-profit sharing,transformative social innovation,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {No shared vision for the sharing economy? : exploring the transformative potential of the non-profit sharing economy in Southern Sweden},
  year         = {2017},
}