Sharing cities and sustainable consumption and production: towards
an integrated framework
, Pablo Mu~
Universidad del Desarrollo, School of Business, Santiago, Chile
EADA Business School, Barcelona, Spain
Business and Sustainable Change, Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
Received 27 January 2015
Received in revised form
24 July 2015
Accepted 25 July 2015
Available online 11 August 2015
Sustainable consumption and production
Calls for a transformation towards more sustainable consumption and production (SCP) have been
intensifying. As urban populations swell across the planet, cities are faced with increasing pressure on
infrastructure, economic and ecological systems. Yet, with their high population densities and ubiquity of
information and communication technologies, cities are becoming breeding grounds for a new, circular
economy driven by emerging and long-standing sharing activities. This research provides a compre-
hensive view of SCP systems in cities by integrating and examining sharing economy activities in the
context of two continuums, i.e. SCP and private/public orientation. Based on these two analytical di-
mensions, the paper evaluates and plots ﬁve groups of 18 sharing activities to create a Sharing Cities-SCP
Typology comprised by ﬁve ideal types. Each of these ﬁve types represents a unique form of SCP activity,
with the potential to directly impact SCP systems in the context of urban environments. By enabling
diversity and hybridity in the SCP analysis, we allow for a theoretical expansion of SCP models and a new
way of understanding how they may play out in cities.
©2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
“Building a sharing infrastructure and culture is quite simply
one of the most important things cities can do to contribute to a
fair and sustainable world”.
(Agyeman et al., 2013, p. 29).
Much has been made of the historic milestone reached in 2008
when, for the ﬁrst time in history, more people were living in cities
than in rural areas (UNFPA, 2011). The number of urban residents,
estimated at 3.5 billion today, is expected to approach 5 billion by
2030 (UNFPA, 2011) as more migrants seek improved employment
opportunities, access to health services and better education in
cities. In this process, cities can become major engines of economic
growth that spill over to the region (Venkataraman, 2004) and to
other cities (Jacobs, 1984).
Yet today, cities are also major contributors of environmental
problems. While representing only one percent of the world's total
land mass and housing just over 50 percent of humanity, cities
represent more than 70 percent of all energy consumption and
greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This despite the efﬁciency
beneﬁts gained by denser forms of living. To sustain life, the global
economy will need to transition to more sustainable consumption
and production systems (SCP), and it is expected that cities will
form part of the solution.
In SCP literature, there is an underlying assumption that
changes in business activity towards sustainable development has
the potential to positively affect either consumption or produc-
tion systems (Blok et al., 2015). This dichotomous understanding
of the SCP space has reduced the possibility of identifying alter-
native economic forms that can simultaneously deal with both
sides of the SCP spectrum. Overcoming this limitation requires a
broader view that not only treats SCP as a continuum but also
considers the actual epublic/private eorientation of the eco-
nomic activity under examination. When the system is viewed
through this lens, an impressive array of sharing economic ac-
tivities emerge in cities that, by articulating a hybrid approach to
value creation, have a potential combined effect on both sides of
the SCP system.
*Corresponding author. EADA Business School, Barcelona, Spain.
E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org (B. Cohen), email@example.com
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Journal of Cleaner Production
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jclepro
0959-6526/©2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Journal of Cleaner Production 134 (2016) 87e97
The sharing economy is a fast-growing sector disrupting main-
stream industries, yet to date, there is a dearth of research on the
sharing economy. Emerging streams such as business models for
sharing, incumbent responses to sharing economy startups, the role
of information and communication technologies (ICTs) as an
enabler of sharing, the importance of and mechanisms for the
development of trust in sharing economy initiatives, and the po-
tential social, economic and environmental beneﬁts from sharing
economy activity remain unexplored in management and sustain-
ability literature alike. Scholars from the University of Utrecht
sought to address this gap by hosting the First International
Workshop on the Sharing Economy in June of 2015 where many of
these topics were explored. While not exclusive to cities, the
sharing economy is gaining more traction in urban areas because
they are where dense populations and ICTs such as smart phones
and high speed Internet coexist (Agyeman et al., 2013). We suggest
that cities are also faced with scarce resources and insufﬁcient
infrastructure capacity (McClaren and Agyeman, 2015) which
require innovations in consumption and production systems to
maintain or improve quality of life for all.
Therefore this research is primarily concerned with the devel-
opment of an integrated framework for theorizing about the role
the sharing economy can have in accelerating sustainable con-
sumption and production patterns in cities around the globe. It is
worth noting that while the majority of recent media attention
about the sharing economy has been focused on commercial,
scalable sharing economy stalwarts like Airbnb and Uber, the his-
torical roots of sharing in communities, and even many emerging
approaches to sharing that leverage ICT are not even commercial
endeavors. This aspect of sharing in cities is under-researched so
we actively sought to explore the range of sharing from highly
commercial to non-monetary, community-based in line with
McClaren and Agyeman (2015) broader interpretation of the
emerging space in the city context.
In order to understand the range of sharing activity in cities, we
classiﬁed 18 sharing activities into ﬁve key categories, to subse-
quently examine, evaluate and plot them according to two
analytical dimensions: orientation of value creation (i.e. public or
private interest) and the location of the activity on the SCP spec-
trum, embracing particularly diversity and hybridity in the analysis
of the SCP space. From the results we derived a Sharing Cities-SCP
Typology comprised by ﬁve ideal type, each of them representing a
unique, hybrid form of SCP activity, with the potential to directly
impact SCP systems in the context of urban environments. Our
results allow for a theoretical expansion of SCP models and a new
way of understanding how they may play out in cities.
2. Background literature
2.1. Sustainable consumption and production
The formal introduction of the sustainable consumption and
production (SCP) concept occurred during the 1992 World Summit
on Sustainable Development; emerging as a response to the sus-
tainability challenges facing communities around the globe. It has
been deﬁned as “the use of services and related products, which
respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life while
minimizing the use of natural resources and toxic materials as well
as the emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle of the
service or product so as not to jeopardize the needs of further
generations”(Norwegian Ministry of Environment (1994). Twenty
years later, at Rioþ20, the United Nations Conference on Sustain-
able Development reafﬁrmed the commitment towards SCP via the
creation of a 10-year framework of SCP programs.
In extant SCP literature, sustainable consumption and sustain-
able production are generally treated as two discrete constructs
within SCP systems. Sustainable consumption is concerned with
“raising awareness and changing consumer behavior, values, and
motivations”(Barber, 2007, p. 500). Sustainable production is
mostly concerned with “not only the volume and types of goods
and services produced, but the process of making them, the natural
resources extracted to make them, and the waste and pollution
resulting from the extraction, production, and afﬁliated process
resulting in a particular ‘good’” (Barber, 2007, p. 502). A rich stream
of multidisciplinary research has developed since the SCP concept
was introduced exploring how (e.g. Pusavec et al., 2010) and why
(e.g. Dyllick and Hockerts, 2002) some companies engage in SCP
activity as well as measuring the impacts sustainable production
processes achieve (e.g. Veleva et al., 2001).
As sustainable consumption requires consumers to adopt
different approaches towards their purchasing and use patterns, it
has often been associated with social movements (Barber, 2007).
Yet, sustainable consumption has been increasingly associated with
improved health and quality of life as well (Jackson, 2005). The
Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) marketplace has
emerged as a way toframe and market the direct health and quality
of life improvements obtained by consumers embracing sustain-
able consumption of goods and services.
Yet consumption and production systems are not necessarily
discrete components. Although the notion of SCP has evolved
through two different streams, we emphasize its integrity and the
need for embracing the shades of gray between the C and the P.
Scholars studying creative industries, for example, have implored
researchers to consider consumption and production on a contin-
uum (Mbaye, 2011). The sharing economy is further blurring these
lines by supporting user communities that conceive of, co-ﬁnance,
and co-create products and services. Therefore, we suggest that
sustainable consumption and production, at least in the context of
the sharing economy, be treated as a continuum from sustainable
consumption to sustainable production, allowing for hybrid models
which include both consumption and production at their core. We
argue that the blurred lines create challenges for an accurate
placement of some sharing models, particularly with peer-to-peer
(P2P) activity. We have decided to make a distinction pertaining
to asset use and additional services offered. Speciﬁcally we consider
the pure sharing of a resource, without service production, to be
part of the sustainable consumption model. Whereas sharing an
asset with additional service becomes both sustainable consump-
tion and sustainable production.
2.2. SCP, sharing economy and cities
Management scholars have been reluctant to research the
sharing economy (Belk, 2010). Belk suggests three primary reasons
for the dearth of research on sharing in management research: 1)
sharing has historically been considered part of either a gift ex-
change or commodity exchange in conﬂict with rationalist per-
spectives of competing interests; 2) historically sharing was more
associated with in-home activity; and 3) sharing is so ubiquitous
that it has been taken for granted.
Yet, sharing is arguably “the most universal form of human
economic behavior”and has been so for “several hundred thousand
years”(Price, 1975, p. 1,12). Of course historically, sharing involved
intimate relationships within families (Price, 1975) or local com-
munities (Voelker and Flap, 2009). New forms of the sharing
economy no longer rely on previously formed relationships with
sharers. The sharing economy, driven by a convergence of
numerous factors including the global economic recession, growing
environmental consciousness and the growing ubiquity of
B. Cohen, P. Mu~
noz / Journal of Cleaner Production 134 (2016) 87e9788
information communication technologies (ICTs) is booming, with
more than $2 billion in investment raised from venture capitalists
(Owyang et al., 2013) and $3.5 billion generated for users in P2P
models in 2013 (Geron, 2013).
The collaborative economy is impacting life throughout the
globe, but its impact has been highest in cities. Carsharing and
bikesharing projects have emerged onto the global scene, with each
having been implemented in more than 500 cities (Cohen and
Kietzmann, 2014). Airbnb offers most of its 600,000 shared hous-
ing listings in 34,000 cities worldwide (airbnb.com). Crowdsourc-
ing tools are being used to inﬂuence designs for 3D printing
projects which may have signiﬁcant implications for the develop-
ment of localized manufacturing ecosystems in cities.
In the past few years, “sharing cities”is a term which has
emerged to express the marriage of the sharing economy in urban
areas (Agyeman et al., 2013; McClaren and Agyeman, 2015). The
Sharing Cities Network, for example, now counts more than 50
cities on six continents.
Sharing City Seoul, for example, is a vast,
ambitious program focused on converting Seoul into the sharing
capital of the world. Faced with growing resource constraints and
environmental challenges, coupled with a dense population and
impressive internet and smart phone penetration, city leaders
recognized a unique opportunity to position the city for a future,
sustainable and connected economy. The city's strategy has three
key components: change laws to support instead of inhibit the
sharing economy, provide ﬁnancial and advisory support to sharing
startups, and facilitate citizen participation in the sharing economy.
Furthermore the city is taking initiative to lead by example by
opening up municipal buildings for public use outside of work
hours providing ﬁnancial support in several sharing startups,
opening up more than 1000 data sets for public use and creating
book and creating tool lending libraries in different neighborhoods
throughout the city.
Economic activity occurring in cities may take many forms and
the local government can exert a range of inﬂuence from being the
primary developer and implementer, to serving as an active sup-
porter to being a non-participant. Despite the attractiveness and
evident relevance of the sharing economy in urban settings, cities
are sometimes resistant to certain sharing activities, as has been
observed by legal changes brought to Airbnb in New York City and
to Uber in Brussels (Rauch and Schleicher, 2015).
2.3. Value creation in sharing cities: public and private interest
Sharing economy initiatives receive revenue streams from, and
provide beneﬁts to, customers as well as other entities such as
public agencies and non-governmental organizations. They there-
fore act in pursuit of delivering both public and private goods. This
creates hybridization (Pache and Santos, 2013), resulting in the
presence of conﬂicting aims through practices that allow the ven-
ture to assimilate ‘conﬂicting-yet-complementary’business logics
(Smets et al., 2014). As a result, they must utilize two different sets
of value creating logics: a private interestlogic and a public interest
logic. In different degrees sharing economy initiatives combine
these logics to create a hybrid logic (Florin and Schmidt, 2011).
Private interest logic focuses on customers paying for a product or
service, while public interest logic focuses on organizations, com-
munities, and/or individuals receiving the social and/or environ-
mental beneﬁt(Austin et al. 2006). The hybrid logic borrows
elements from both dimensions to create business solutions that
use market forces to address social and/or environmental issues.
Similar to Lamberton and Rose (2012), we consider the extent to
which a shared good or service is associated with public or private
offerings to be of relevance for this research. In fact, because this
study is particularly concerned with the role that the sharing
economy plays in addressing SCP systems in cities, framing the
sharing economy in light of the public and private interests of
sharing initiatives (in the way the seek to create value) is more
pertinent because local governments can play a signiﬁcant policy
and support role in local sharing activity (Cohen and Kietzmann,
3. Data and methods
In exploring sharing economy activities in cities and their
impact on SCP systems, we set to explore and visualize the sharing
space in the context of the SCP continuum. In order to do so, we
needed to organize and categorize the spectrum according to a set
of criteria. As any new ﬁeld, there is a lack of consensus regarding
deﬁnition, boundaries and central components. In addition, virtu-
ally anything in society can be shared including our time, posses-
sions, services and even food. This poses a major research design
challenge. In establishing classiﬁcation criteria for our study, we
reviewed extant literature aimed at delineating the ﬁeld.
Leveraging existing research on public goods, Lamberton and Rose
(2012) introduced a shared goods typology which evaluated the
sharing economy based on rivalry (low or high) and exclusivity (low
or high). Agyeman et al. (2013) developed a sharing spectrum
containing ﬁve categories of sharing: material, product, service,
wellbeing and capability. In embracing the complexity of the ﬁeld,
Owyang et al. (2013) created the “Collaborative Economy Honey-
comb”which highlights six families of the sharing economy
including: money, goods, food, services, transportation and space.
The Honeycomb is then broken down into 14 sub-classes. Despite
the array of concepts covered by these classiﬁcation models, they
do not cover the full spectrum of cases and there is no organized
data available, upon which to contrast our theorizing. Nevertheless,
they offer relevant insights that support our typology building
Following Barber (2007) we leverage an existing database of
suppliers to help understand the SCP marketplace, in this case the
sharing economy. Mesh has a growing directory of more than 9400
sharing economy projects and companies in 130 countries, cate-
gorizing this directory into 25 areas ranging from accessories to
This gives us a more comprehensive view of the phe-
nomenon and access to organized data. Combining insights from
the sharing economy types from prior research and from a review
of the Mesh directory and categorization, we sought to develop a
typology for understanding the sharing economy in the context of
sustainable consumption and production in cities. This was con-
ducted in two phases. Phase one focuses on the generation of the
Sharing Cities-SCP classiﬁcation which connects sharing economy
and SCP concepts. Phase two focuses on the development of the
Sharing Cities-SCP Plot and typology mapping. The criteria and
methodology for classiﬁcation and subsequent typology develop-
ment is discussed below.
3.1. Sample selection: identifying Sharing Cities-SCP activities
Phase one entailed a review of the key sharing economy
frameworks referenced above, and a thorough review of the Mesh
database of 9400 sharing initiatives around the globe. The goal of
B. Cohen, P. Mu~
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this phase was to generate a typology of sharing activities which
occur in cities and have a direct relationship to SCP systems. In
order for a sharing activity to be incorporated into our Sharing
Cities-SCP classiﬁcation, it needed to meet the following criteria: 1)
have some element of being embedded in place; and 2) a direct and
clear relationship between the adoption of that sharing model and
impact on SCP systems.
While we have addressed both of these concepts to some extent
in the literature review it is necessary to expand on the place-based
criteria. Management researchers have been increasingly con-
cerned with understanding under what contexts are entrepreneurs
embedded in place and how that might inﬂuence their venturing
activity (Mckeever et al., in press). A key differentiator between
more generic frameworks of the sharing economy discussed above,
and our framework relates to the extent to which the sharing ac-
tivity is tied to a place, in this case, cities. Crowdfunding for
example is a powerful component of the sharing economy but most
crowdfunding is not tied to place. That is to say, services like
Indiego and Kickstarter have no clear tie into the location of the
A contributor to a crowdfunding campaign can easily
live in another city or even another country from the campaign
There are of course, place-based angles to crowdfunding. Civic
crowdfunding platforms like Neighborly speciﬁcally seek to sup-
port local community projects usually with local contributions.
However, civic crowdfunding also failed to make our screen due to
the weak connection between civic crowdfunding and our second
criteria, that is, a direct connection between the sharing activity
and SCP systems. Certainly some projects funded via civic crowd-
funding platforms do have a direct impact on SCP but many projects
are unrelated altogether.
After reviewing the Mesh database and the efforts by Owyang
et al. (2013), Lamberton and Rose (2012) and Agyeman et al.
(2013), we also explored extant research on key areas of focus for
SCP research and action. The Sustainable Consumption Research
Exchange (SCORE!) identiﬁed food, mobility, energy and housing as
key focal areas for SCP action (Tukker et al., 2008). Leveraging the
SCORE! work and our review of sharing economy models, we
identiﬁed ﬁve sharing economy categories which met our two
criteria of having a dependency on place and a meaningful rela-
tionship to SCP systems in cities: energy, food, goods, mobility and
transport and space sharing. Table 1 summarizes a proposed
Sharing Cities-SCP classiﬁcation complete with 18 subcomponents,
examples from cities around the globe and summary points about
3.2. Data analysis and typology mapping
The concept of typology in the context of typology development
has been deﬁned as the “conceptually derived interrelated sets of
ideal types …each of which represents a unique combination of
attributes that are believed to determine the relevant outcome(s)”
(Doty and Glick, 1994: 232). Typology mapping is a strong form of
theory development in that it tends to ensure greater parsimony
(Fiss, 2011). The development of interrelated sets of ideal types
permits the reconciliation of prior efforts aimed at characterizing
SCP and private-public interest (while retaining the richness of
individual subcomponents), and allows us to move forward
research at the intersection of sharing economy and SCP in cities.
Because the purpose of ideas types is to simplify the complexity of
the real world, the process of typology development generally in-
volves the pragmatic reduction of an extensive set of features to a
limited set relevant to the purpose at hand.
In uncovering ideal types, we used several analytical techniques
in a stage-wise process. First, two independent researchers evalu-
ated the private-public interest and SCP continuums based on
0e100 scale, with 0 representing full public interest and full con-
sumption orientation and 100 full private interest and full pro-
duction orientation. Our selection of data numbers does not reﬂect
degrees of something, it simply allows us to estimate and compare
where the SCP components fall in the plot. In evaluating each of the
SCP subcomponents, we focus on exemplar cases (Table 1), which
were purposively selected because they are revelatory (Eisenhardt
and Graebner, 2007) and can richly describe the existence of a
phenomenon (Siggelkow, 2007).
Once the researchers ﬁnalized the rating procedure, we con-
ducted a simpliﬁed inter-rater reliability (IRR) test to demonstrate
consistency among observational ratings provided by the two
coders. Given that our analytical units are types of SCP activities, not
reﬂective measures, the IRR calculation relies on average scores, not
statistical techniques of variance of true scores and measurement
errors. Discrepancies were detected when IRR was þ0.2, which we
scrutinized and discussed until reaching agreement. Following, we
calculated thresholds for top quarter (max_score*0.75), bottom
quarter (min_score*1.25), and crossover point (median) to set an-
chors for the calibration procedure, used in conﬁgurational
comparative analyses (Rihoux and Ragin, 2008). The objective of the
calibration procedure is to transform variable raw scores into set
measures based on the observed score distribution, rescaling the
original measure into scores ranging from 0.0 to 1.0 (Ragin, 2008).
Table 2 depicts the scores resulting from the rating procedure,
calibrated scores and results from the IRR test (0.89). Basedon these
new scores, cases were plotted in a matrix distributing the cases into
ﬁve ideal types: four clear corners and an area of complete hybrid-
ization in the middle. Each of these ﬁve types represents a unique
form of SCP activity within the SCP system.
The development of a Sharing Cities-SCP typology represents a
useful way to categorize sharing activities, which frequently occur
in cities and have the potential to advance SCP systems. Our anal-
ysis provides a rigorous way to understand the relationship be-
tween different sharing activities and SCP systems. Following, we
develop a Sharing Cities-SCP Plot based on two different analytical
dimensions: 1. the central aim of the sharing economy initiative
regarding value creation, i.e. public interest or private interest, and
2. the location of the activity on the SCP spectrum; to subsequently
elaborate on the emerging distinct ideal types.
4. Results: towards a Sharing Cities-SCP typology
In order to understand how the sharing economy interacts with
SCP systems in cities, we considered different methods of mapping
the results of our typology analysis above into a plot reﬂecting
unique aspects of the sharing models and the SCP system. This
resulted in the development of a plot with two dimensions: the
extent to which the activitycould be classiﬁed as of public, private or
hybrid interest; and the extent to which the sharing activity has a
primary impact on sustainable consumption, sustainable produc-
tion or both. The discussion draws upon extant literature on orga-
nizational hybridization and from SCP systems literature in order to
support the development of the Sharing Cities-SCP Plot (Fig. 1).
It is clear from the plot that there is balance in the private-public
interest domain and a slight tendency towards the sustainable
consumption component of our SCP continuum. As can be
Indiego and Kickstarter are arguably the largest and most recognized examples
of peer to peer crowdfunding platforms. Both facilitate individual project de-
velopers' access to consumers or individual investors in their ﬂedgling projects in
return for discounted prices on future goods, equity investment in the project, and/
or other rewards.
B. Cohen, P. Mu~
noz / Journal of Cleaner Production 134 (2016) 87e9790
observed, the 18 identiﬁed sharing activities are widely dispersed
across both continuums. As discussed above, one contribution of
this research has been to demonstrate that particularly in the
context of the sharing economy, several SCP activities can be
described as a hybrid of both consumption and production. Di-
versity is inherent to the social world, our goal is to simplify reality
and provide parsimonious explanations of how the SCP system is
structured, while retaining the richness of such dispersion.
4.1. Quadrant 1: sustainable consumption platforms
Quadrant one (private interest, sustainable consumption) fo-
cuses on sharing activity which is primarily oriented towards pri-
vate interest and primarily oriented towards sustainable
consumption. We refer to this quadrant as Sustainable Consump-
tion Platforms because all three sharing activities residing in this
quadrant tend to serve as platforms for sustainable consumption. In
many speciﬁc examples of these sharing activities, one can observe
for proﬁt enterprises leveraging either information and commu-
nication technologies (ICTs) or distributed physical resources (e.g.
carsharing) to facilitate scalable access or reuse of goods. The three
subcomponents residing in the Sustainable Consumption Platforms
quadrant are: loaner products, pre-owned goods and carsharing.
The justiﬁcation for their placement on the plot follows.
Loaner products have been in existence in some form for cen-
turies. In their original form, owners of rarely used products oc-
casionally lent them to friends and family. Technology and social
networks which can facilitate increased trust, have enabled the
growth of the loaner products to a wider audience of potential
users. One of the most popular intermediaries for loaner products is
Rent the Runway. Founded in 2009 by two Harvard Business School
students, Rent the Runway connects owners of expensive and
rarely used fashion items to other users for about 10 percent of the
retail cost for the item. While Rent the Runway started as a purely
online venture, in 2013, they began investing in physical stores as
well. As of February 2014, Rent the Runway had more than 4 million
members. Loaner products are generally enabled by private in-
termediaries and are focused on sustainable consumption, placing
this subcomponent in the upper left portion of the plot.
Pre-owned goods enable the redistribution of goods to places
where they are needed (Bostman and Rogers, 2010). Like loaner
products, pre-owned goods have long been an important part of the
global economic system. Ebay has served as an intermediator be-
tween buyers and sellers of used, pre-owned, goods since 1995.
Craigslist, also started in 1995, facilitates more than 80 million
classiﬁed ads per month with more than 700 local sites in 70
countries around the globe.
The transfer of ownership of pre-
Shared Cities-SCP classiﬁcation.
Sharing category Subcomponent Cases Comments
Energy Energy co-ops Brighton Energy Co-op (UK) Community-funded solar power
Group purchasing 1BOG (S.F., multi-city) One Block off the Grid is a group purchasing portal to facilitate
discounted solar purchasing for residents
Food Community gardens Liz Christy Community Garden (New York) Liz Christy Community Garden,founded in New York City in 1973, is
recognized as the ﬁrst community garden in the U.S.
Edible communities Incredible Edible Todmordon (UK) Open community gardening and consumption
Shared foods Leftover Swap (San Francisco, multi-city) Mobile app to facilitate the sharing of leftovers
Shared food prep Union Kitchen (D.C.) Possess 4500 sq ft worth of kitchen facilities to support independent
Goods 3D printed
Blu-Bin (Burlingont, Vermont)
3D Hubs (multi-city)
Oldest 3D printing house in US which uses locally recycled plastic
Intermediary connecting 3D printing facilities with local inventors
Loaner products Rent the Runway Platform for short-term lending of luxury fashion
Pre-owned goods Craigslist (multi-city) Ubiquitous, virtual marketplace for local used goods, services and
Freecycling Island Re (Port Alberni, Canada) Local store for redistributing items no longer needed to people who
Libraries Virtually every city in the world Arguably the oldest form of the sharing economy
es Started in Amsterdam, now global First Repair Caf
e started in 2009 as a free place to come and ﬁx
broken household items
Mobility &Transport Carsharing Autolib' (Paris) All EV project supported by the city and privately operated
Bikesharing Providencia (Santiago) City owned and privately operated bikesharing
Ridesharing Uber (SF, multi-city) Platform for connecting drivers and riders
Crowdshipping MeeMeep (Melbourne, Australia) Connects approved drivers with users seeking to send something
locally or within the country.
Space Sharing Work space Urban Station (Buenos Aires
and selected cities)
Founded in Buenos Aires, Urban Station is a small chain of shared
Places to stay Airbnb (S.F. and multi-city) Airbnb, a sharing economy pioneer, is valued at $10 billion (USD) for
its ubiquitous network of local/shared housing options.
Scores, calibration and IRR.
Full score (average) Calibrated scores IRR
PP Interest SCP PP Interest SCP
Energy co-ops 32 73 0.32 0.92 0.91
Group purchasing 79 50 0.95 0.73 0.87
Community gardens 16 60 0.11 0.84 0.94
Edible communities 9 45 0.06 0.67 0.92
Shared foods 55 30 0.75 0.37 0.75
Shared food prep 66 82 0.88 0.95 0.95
70 58 0.91 0.82 0.93
Loaner products 78 28 0.95 0.31 0.95
Pre-owned goods 76 28 0.94 0.31 0.84
Freecycling 19 42 0.13 0.62 0.80
Libraries 6 12 0.05 0.05 0.97
Repair cafes 11 31 0.07 0.4 0.99
Carsharing 46 17 0.6 0.09 0.91
Bikesharing 25 24 0.2 0.2 0.91
Ridesharing 37 29 0.42 0.34 0.80
Crowdshipping 69 39 0.9 0.58 0.85
Work space 35 22 0.37 0.16 0.94
Places to stay 75 37 0.94 0.55 0.86
IRR 0.90 0.88 0.89
B. Cohen, P. Mu~
noz / Journal of Cleaner Production 134 (2016) 87e97 91
owned goods within the sharing economy, as is the case for Ebay
and Craigslist, are frequently facilitated by for-proﬁt intermediaries
and generally do not receive direct support from local govern-
ments. Pre-owned goods support more sustainable consumption as
opposed to the purchase of new goods, thus placing them in the
middle left side of the plot.
Carsharing facilitates the shared use of personal vehicles
amongst friends or members of carsharing networks. There are
several different business models within carsharing including
business to consumer (B2C), peer-to-peer (P2P) and community
owned cooperative models (Cohen and Kietzmann, 2014). The most
recognized B2C model is Zipcar which was recently sold to Avis for
$500 million. While P2P carsharing models have emerged around
the globe, Relay Rides is one of the most successful to date. Founded
in Boston before moving to San Francisco, Relay Rides facilitates the
shared use of personal vehicles, frequently to and from airports.
While in some cases, cities have fought carsharing models
which compete with taxi services or rental car agencies, many cities
have provided support to carsharing service providers in the form
of free or discounted parking spaces and road use fees. Carsharing
facilitates sustainable consumption by minimizing the need for
users to acquire their own vehicle. In fact research suggests that for
every car in a carsharing ﬂeet, up to 13 vehicles are removed from
city streets as new carsharing members sell their personal vehicles
or defer the purchase of a new one (Martin et al., 2010). Thus
carsharing has been placed closer to the center of the private-public
interest category and lies on the sustainable consumption side of
the SCP continuum.
4.2. Quadrant 2: sustainable production platforms
Quadrant two (private interest, sustainable production) focuses
on sharing activity which is primarily oriented towards private
interest and primarily oriented towards sustainable production. We
refer to this quadrant as Sustainable Production Platforms because
all ﬁve sharing activities residing in this quadrant tend to serve as
platforms for sustainable production. While most sharing found in
this quadrant are similarly scalable as the ones in the Sustainable
Consumption Platforms quadrant, the Shared Food Prep is more
limited because it is restricted to a speciﬁc physical location
(although of course, the option to franchise the model do exist). The
ﬁve sharing activities in the Sustainable Production Platforms
quadrant occurring in cities are: group purchasing of renewable
energy, shared food prep, 3D printed goods &facilities, crowd-
shipping and places to stay. The justiﬁcation for their placement
on the plot follows.
Group purchasing of renewable energy seeks to enable individual
citizens to consolidate their purchasing power in hopes of obtain-
ing localized renewable energy solutions at a discount over retail
rates. One Block off the Grid (1BOG) launched in San Francisco in
Fig. 1. The Sharing Cities-SCP plot.
B. Cohen, P. Mu~
noz / Journal of Cleaner Production 134 (2016) 87e9792
2008 to accomplish this group buying approach by supporting
homeowners in converting to solar rooﬁng. In 2009 alone, 1BOG
facilitated 600 home solar installations with an average savings of
15%, allowing 1BOG to secure a $5 million (USD) investment from
New Enterprise Associates.
1BOG was acquired by Pure Energies
Group in 2012. Group purchasing does not rely on government
subsidies or support and is primarily focused on individual con-
sumption of renewables as opposed to producing energy for others
to consume. Therefore we have plotted group purchasing in the
upper middle space of the Sharing Cities-SCP Plot.
Shared food prep is associated with the creation of commercial
kitchen space accessible to independent restaurateurs and food
producers. This is of particular use for small catering businesses and
independent food producers as it allows them have access to
certiﬁed and maintained kitchen facilities without having to invest
in their own individual kitchens. Union Kitchen, based in Wash-
ington D.C. offers a 7300 square foot kitchen facility for use by small
restaurateurs and producers. As of October 17th, 2014, Union
Kitchen had 54 member companies. Members of shared food prep
organizations are focused on the production of food and normally
pay fees to the facility at market rates, leading to this category's
placement in the middle right space of the plot.
3D printed goods &facilities have been discussed for years as
disruptive innovations which will someday ‘change the world’
(Campbell et al., 2011). 3D printing may have not yet achieved such
an impact, but it appears to be on the verge of becoming an
important and potentially transformative alternative to traditional
production and distribution models. One project which has
garnered substantial media attention, and even earned a visit by
President Barack Obama, is the 3D Print Canal House in Amsterdam.
Utilizing bio plastics and locally sourced materials architects
designed and constructed a home on Amsterdam's canal-front.
“What we wanted to achieve with this project is to take produc-
tion out of the factory and into the city and show the people that
they can be part of production again.”(3dprintcanalhouse.com).
While some 3D printing projects receive government subsidies
due to the perceived research and development beneﬁts for local
industry, most 3D projects will eventually have to survive on their
own economic merits. 3D printing facilities are shared facilities for
utilizing 3D printing technology without requiring all potential
users to acquire their own 3D printers. Burlington, Vermont-based
Blu-Bin, the oldest 3D printing facility in the U.S., offers its printers
to individuals and small businesses from the local community. Blu-
Bin has a focus on the use of locally recycled plastic as input into the
products it prints for its clients. 3D Hubs takes this concept to the
platform level by connecting local communities to more than 8000
3D printers in cities around the globe. Imprima3D in S~
Brazil marries both consumption and production by allowing de-
signers to both print at their facilities and sell their customized
products online. Therefore we have positioned 3D printed goods
and printing facilities as a hybrid model on the Sharing Cities-SCP
Plot. There is a strong tendency, however, for 3D printing facil-
ities to move towards the private interest domain. While some 3D
shops are being supported by local governments, the majority are
independent, private operators charging market rates for their use.
Crowdshipping facilitates the shared use of excess capacity in
vehicles to deliver goods locally (or even internationally). Mee-
Meep, a Melbourne-based crowdshipping startup, “connects peo-
ple who need stuff moved with people on the move.”Similar to
Uber, MeeMeep has a process for verifying aspiring movers in order
to mitigate user safety and security concerns. While much of the
deliveries occur within the same citify, the service is now available
throughout Australia. MeePeep is not alone as there are dozens, if
not hundreds, of similar crowd-shipping services in cities
throughout the globe. Crowd-shipping enables more sustainable
consumption over alternative forms of delivery as they facilitate
consolidated delivery and geo-located delivery to optimize routes.
However, unlike ridesharing which focuses on optimizing unused
resources (i.e. unoccupied seats in a car) on the way from point A to
B, crowd-shipping also optimizes unused space in a vehicle, but it is
also service production because it entails recovery of a package
from a user and delivery to another location. Therefore we consider
crowd-shipping to be a hybrid offering on the SCP continuum.
Places to stay is associated with sharing short-term housing
options. Airbnb, offering shared alternatives to more than 800,000
temporary housing options in more than 34,000 cities around the
world, has become synonymous with the sharing economy move-
ment. Airbnb, like many others summarized above, leverages
technology to serve as an intermediary between potential renters
and homeowners. In some cases, owners rent out rooms in their
own house where they currently live, and in others they rent out
the entire house or apartment (or one of 600 castles) for short stays.
The success of Airbnb in cities around the globe has raised signif-
icant questions, and challenges to the traditional hotel industry. For
example, a recent brand survey by NetBase found that Airbnb has a
more positive brand image amongst travelers than leading hotel
chains such as Four Seasons and Hyatt.
While we do not have
tangible data to support this, we believe that the rapid growth of
Airbnb and its competitors may result in deferred or abandoned
plans for new hotel construction. Regardless, Airbnb offers a more
sustainable consumption option to people seeking temporary
housing as it allows increased sharing and optimization of unused
4.3. Quadrant 3: localized sustainable consumption
Quadrant three (public interest, sustainable consumption) fo-
cuses on sharing activity which is primarily oriented towards public
interest and primarily oriented towards sustainable consumption.
We refer to this quadrant as Localized Sustainable Consumption
because they are primarily local in nature and primarily focused on
sustainable consumption. We identiﬁed four subcomponents of
Localized Sustainable Consumption sharing occurring in cities: li-
braries, repair cafes, bike-sharing and co-work spaces. The justiﬁ-
cation for their placement on the plot follows.
Libraries are arguably the oldest form of sharing economy ac-
tivity. Most cities and towns around the world have libraries con-
taining collections of books, magazines and other reading materials
to be shared by members of the community. In recent times, li-
braries have begun to transform into more modern versions with
computer labs and Internet access to allow users access to digital
information as well as physical reading materials. In Medellin,
Colombia, a poor neighborhood on the hillside was the recipient of
one of the best public libraries created in the country. Not all li-
braries are public and some require admission or membership. As
an alternative to purchasing the reading materials, or even com-
puters to gain Internet access, libraries support sustainable
Repair cafes ﬁrst emerged in 2009 in Amsterdam. The concept
behind repair cafes is to encourage people to salvage household
goods which have been damaged and would likely be heading to
the landﬁll. As the take-make-waste, consumerist society gain
prominence worldwide, the tendency for people to stop using and
B. Cohen, P. Mu~
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eventually dispose of items needing minimum repair to be born
again eroded. It was the recognition of the wasteful nature of local
communities that inspired Martin Postma to start the ﬁrst Repair
e in Amsterdam, where tools are made freely available and a
community of sustainability-minded community members are
invited to repair their own toasters, bikes, clothes and toys, or get or
offer help to others in a social environment. The Repair Caf
helped established hundreds of other repair cafes around the globe.
Repair Cafes do not intend to replace repair services and instead
focus on helping individuals salvage something they would never
consider paying to repair. As such we consider Repair Cafes to be
primarily oriented towards sustainable consumption, while we
have placed them close to hybrid models because there is an
element of service production when others assist someone repair a
personal item, albeit without a fee.
Bikesharing involves the shared use of bicycles, usually secured
in designated bikesharing spaces throughout a city. At least three
generations of bikesharing systems have evolved over the past few
decades and several different business models have been employed
to facilitate bikesharing in cities throughout the globe (Cohen and
Kietzmann, 2014). Because of their potential to support more sus-
tainable multi-modal transit and to address the ﬁrst-mile/last-mile
challenges for public transit (Cohen and Kietzmann, 2014), bike-
sharing programs typically obtain signiﬁcant beneﬁts from local
governments. This ranges from free space for the bikesharing
infrastructure to government subsidies and, in some cases, such as
in Providencia, Chile, the local government pays for most of the
service and only outsources the operation of the a private enter-
prise. Some cities, like Barcelona, restrict access to their bikesharing
service to local residents, whereas others like Vienna offer rental
services to visitors as well. Bikesharing would generally be classi-
ﬁed as an initiative driven by public interest and supports sus-
tainable consumption by diverting motorized vehicle use. While
many bike sharing systems are locally developed and operated,
some, such as those developed by Trek's B-Cycle, have moved to-
wards a franchise model, offering them more scale.
Co-work spaces have emerged in cities and suburban areas
around the globe. They frequently offer access to printers, Internet,
couriers, meeting spaces and other facilities one normally expects
to ﬁnd in ofﬁce settings, while also offering the opportunity to
interact with others in a more informal environment. While the
majority of co-working spaces emerging in cities throughout the
globe are local and independent there are some franchise models as
well. Urban Station, for example, emerged as a chain of co-work
spaces, ﬁrst in Argentina, and subsequently in Chile, Mexico,
Colombia and Turkey. Members can pay a monthly, daily or hourly
fee to use the facilities. While Urban Station, and other co-work
facilities cater to independent consultants and entrepreneurs
seeking shared facilities and social interaction, they also can serve
to alleviate congestion in cities by facilitating tele-commuting from
employees in large ﬁrms who live far from corporate ofﬁces. For
this reason, and for co-working's potential to foster synergies and
local economic development, many cities have invested in their
own co-work offerings, or offer support to independent co-working
facilities. As such we have placed co-work spaces between a public
and private interest and on the sustainable consumption side of the
4.4. Quadrant 4: localized sustainable production
Quadrant four (public interest, sustainable production) focuses
on sharing activity which is primarily oriented towards public in-
terest and primarily oriented towards sustainable production. We
refer to this quadrant as Localized Sustainable Production because
they are primarily local in nature and primarily focused on
sustainable production. We identiﬁed four subcomponents of
Localized Sustainable Production sharing occurring in cities: energy
co-ops, community gardens, edible communities and freecycling.
The justiﬁcation for their placement on the plot follows.
Energy co-ops are organizations formed by individuals in a
community to pool their funds for the generation and consumption
of renewable energy resources (Maruyama et al., 2007). This makes
energy co-ops one of the sharing economy's innovative activities
incorporating both sides of the SCP model. At the time of writing,
Mesh had about a dozen energy co-ops listed in their database
although there are hundreds if not thousands of energy co-ops
around the globe. Brighton Energy Cooperative, owns more than
500kw of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in Brighton, UK. While
virtually all energy co-ops focus on production, as is the case with
Brighton, co-ops do not always manage to deliver the renewable
energy to members, instead feeding into the local grid. However, in
some cases such as with local district energy plants, efforts are
made to directly deliver the energy to local community owners (e.g.
Vancouver's Southeast False Creek district energy system). Brighton
Energy Cooperative is able to take advantage of local policy in-
centives in the form of feed-in-tariffs (FITs) and tax breaks for in-
vestment in the initiative. Thus, energy coops have been place
between hybrid and production on the SCP continuum and classi-
ﬁed as a hybrid organization on the public-private interest
dimension of the Sharing Cities SCP Plot.
Community gardens are community owned or donated lands
devoted to small-scale, primarily organic, fruit and vegetable crop
raising and consumption. Urbanfarming.org has its own map of
thousands of community farms around the globe, while
Sharedearth.com puts a spin on community gardening by con-
necting landowners with gardeners seeking an area to create a
garden. The landowner and the gardener then share in the crops
produced. More traditional community gardens, such as Liz Christy
Community Garden in New York City, the ﬁrst community garden
in the U.S., bring together local gardening enthusiasts together to
share in the productive capacity of a small plot of land in an urban
setting. Frequently, members are given, or pay a small contribution
to obtain, a micro-plot to produce their own fruits and vegetables
for personal consumption. While the land itself is often donated or
highly subsidized we have plotted community gardens as public
interest activity because their space is limited. Community gardens'
utility in both production and consumption leads community gar-
dens to be identiﬁed as a hybrid on the SCP continuum, focused
primarily on public interest.
Edible communities emerged in 2008 in Todmordon, UK after a
local woman, Pam Warhurst and her friends began experimenting
with making public community gardens where anyone in the
community, not just members of a community garden could plant,
cultivate and/or consume fruits and vegetables in the community.
The initiative spread to the point where much of the public green
space in Todmordon is now edible. Since 2008, edible communities
have emerged in towns and cities around the globe. Because the
local government frequently offers free space to the gardeners and
because the fruits of their labor are freely shared with the com-
munity, edible communities have been plotted as hybrid SCP
models in the public interest domain.
Freecycling either virtual or physical, is another form of the
redistribution market. This normally involves the donation of pre-
owned goods for reuse by others. As opposed to donation to non-
proﬁts, an intermediary facilitates the redistribution of the goods
to others for free. Freecycle.org is a virtual network with more than
8 million members which facilitates local freecycled redistribution.
Island Re, in Port Alberni, Canada has a physical storefront dedi-
cated to redistributing free goods. Some freecycling organizations
gain local municipal support. Some freecycle users seek to convert
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an unwanted good into something more useful by combining it
with other materials, up-cycling the item and or incorporating
artistic elements. Thus, in some cases freecycling can also be used
for sustainable production. As such, we have placed freecycling
towards the public domain and in-between sustainable consump-
tion and hybrid on the SCP continuum.
4.5. Quadrant 5: complete hybridization
One of the contributions of this research includes an articulation
of a continuum for both SCP and public-private interest. As such,
our model enables the identiﬁcation of sharing activities at the
intersection of both continuums in cities. Thus far, we were able to
identify two fully hybrid sharing activities occurring in cities:
shared foods and ridesharing. The justiﬁcation for their placement
on the plot follows.
Shared foods may not sound appealing to all, but certainly have
the potential to support SCP in cities while also addressing the
inequality gap. Leftover Swap, for example, allows possessors of
excess meals to connect to locals in search of cheap cooked food.
The idea for Leftover Swap emerged when its founder and his
friends had ordered too much pizza and did not want to waste it.
Several other companies and organizations have emerged in cities
around the globe seeking to address the massive food waste in
developed countries by redirecting this food to those in need, either
for a fee or, in the case of non-proﬁts, for free. Boulder Food Rescue,
for example, recovers leftover foods from bakeries or small grocery
stores and delivers the food by bike to local shelters. Therefore in
some cases, shared foods are closer to the public interest while in
others they are closer to private interest.
Ridesharing/Carpooling. Instead of sharing individual access to
passenger vehicles, ridesharing and carpooling offer the option to
be a passenger in the vehicle driven by someone else. Carpooling
usually involves pre-arranged trips to shared destinations, whereas
ridesharing, popularized by Uber and Lyft, facilitate the connection
between drivers and prospective passengers seeking to travel
similar routes. Carpooling services have frequently been encour-
aged by employers and cities to address congestion in cities,
frequently on an ad-hoc basis. Ridesharing has become a disruptive
innovation to the taxi industry. As such, intermediaries such as
Uber and Lyft have experienced legal action from the taxi industry
and from some select cities around the globe. We consider ride-
sharing/carpooling to be a private service with hybrid interest,
contributing towards sustainable consumption. The more ride-
sharing becomes a substitute for taxi services, the less ridesharing
actually belongs in the SCP conversation. However, ridesharing
frequently optimizes single occupancy vehicle use, so we believe
ridesharing and carpooling belong in the taxonomy and plot.
5. Contribution, limitations and future research
The Sharing Cities-SCP Plot seeks to provide a framework for
understanding the emergence (and diversity) of sharing activity in
cities and their contribution to a transformation of urban econo-
mies towards increased sustainable consumption and production.
Next, we will discuss contributions and limitations of this study
along with suggestions for future research.
The sharing economy, at least the 21st century version of it, is in
its infancy. Extant research in management literature regarding the
sharing economy is virtually non-existent. At such an early stage of
the emergence of a new ﬁeld, this type of conceptual and pre-
theory development is necessary to support further theoretical
and empirical development of the ﬁeld. We believe that the Sharing
Cities-SCP Plot will be useful for other scholars in sustainability and
management who wish to incorporate sharing economy in their
future research activity as it provides a basis for framing this sector
of the economy. Furthermore, we believe the Plot offers a signiﬁ-
cant contribution to the sustainable consumption and production
research stream by demonstrating that some economic activity has
the potential to be a hybrid of both sustainable consumption and
production, which may open up new research opportunities in the
SCP literature, within sharing and in other economic activity as
The sharing economy is a rapidly growing and diversifying
segment of the urban marketplace. Despite our best efforts to re-
view the Mesh database and other initiatives to classify the sharing
economy, it is quite likely we have overlooked some emerging
sharing activities worthy of placement in the typology and the plot.
Furthermore, this space is likely to continue to evolve rapidly and
there will be some new sharing activity which will disrupt other
incumbent actors in the take-make-waste industrial economy of
the 20th century (Hawken et al., 1999). For example, Helsinki
recently launched a personalized bus service, Kutsuplus, which is a
hybrid between traditional public transit bus service and a ride-
sharing service, whereby users can notify the service of their need
to go from their current location to a speciﬁc destination. Kutsuplus
aggregates inquiries in real-time and customizes routes to optimize
the use of their 15 minibuses. Since Kutsuplus was the only service
of its kind we were able to identify we chose not to include it as a
separate subcomponent of the model.
Also, the effort to locate the subcomponents on the plot is not an
exact science. There are a range of business models and approaches
to each of the subcomponents and some of them likely skew to-
wards or away from the x and y-axes. As mentioned above, car-
sharing comes in a variety of models from B2C, P2P and
cooperative. Some involve direct city economic support while
others operate independent of the city. Some, like Zipcar offer a
range of vehicle types whereas others, like Velib in Paris, focus
exclusively on electric vehicle (EV sharing), suggesting relatively
different impacts on urban SCP systems.
A natural evolution of the typology and plot would be to
quantify the social, economic and ecological impacts of the
different sharing categories and subcomponents in cities. Each ac-
tivity likely has differential implications on SCP systems, and even
within subcategories, business models and approaches to imple-
mentation likely result in different SCP impacts. Knowledge about
the impacts of sharing activities could be beneﬁcial for local policy
makers, scholars, executives and entrepreneurs alike. Cities are
only getting started in understanding the sharing economy, what it
means for their city, and what kind of policy can be used to support
those services that lead to positive beneﬁts while limiting negative
externalities. It is clear that many sharing activities may have
profound impacts on the quality of life in cities and may serve to
complement or disrupt existing public and private offerings (Cohen
and Kietzmann, 2014). SCP researchers have extensively explored
public policy instruments to support advances in SCP systems, yet
there is a dearth of research exploring public policy tools for sup-
porting the local sharing economy.
As we mentioned earlier, typology mapping enables a strong
form of theory development in that it tends to ensure greater
parsimony. Far from viewing typology development as means for
ordering and comparing groups of elements and clustering them
into categories, they offer the possibility to elaborate complex
theoretical statements that, unlike traditional linear or interaction
models of causality, allows for accommodating multiple relation-
ships between their constructs, thus considerable levels of causal
complexity (Fiss, 2011). We strongly believe that our typology
mapping is a ﬁrst step towards theorizing on the relationship be-
tween SCP and organizational hybridity in the context of the
sharing economy in that it facilitates further understanding and
B. Cohen, P. Mu~
noz / Journal of Cleaner Production 134 (2016) 87e97 95
theorizing on this topic. We therefore encourage future research in
A second contribution of this research was to challenge the
assumption in SCP research that sustainable consumption and
production are separate constructs. Particularly in the context of
the sharing economy, there are a growing number of activities
which involve users collaborating for the purposes of sustainable
consumption and production together. These maker communities,
as Owyang et al. (2013) and others refer to them, represent another
potentially fruitful area for future research. Hybrid activities which
bring user communities together to co-design, co-ﬁnance, co-
produce, co-distribute and consume collectively or individually
challenges many established institutions, could be very disruptive
to incumbent industries, and may transform local economies in
innovative and more sustainable ways. What can be learned from
these hybrid models and how do they inform theory, policy and
practice for the further development of SCP systems?
Finally, throughout this research, we highlighted sharing econ-
omy projects around the globe. Yet we still know very little about
how local conditions affect adoption and implementation of shared
economy concepts in different cities, regions and continents.
Relatedly, what factors inﬂuence the diffusion of sustainable,
sharing innovations across cities and which models can be suc-
cessful at the platform level? For example, Airbnb, 1BOG and 3D
Hubs are all platform level solutions allowing for users in any city to
participate in local sharing. However some sharing activities appear
to require more localized interaction and collaboration, such as
those in the maker movement.
With this research we sought to begin to frame the unique
interaction between the emergence of the sharing economy in
cities and sustainable consumption and production aspirations. The
Sharing Cities-SCP Typology and the Sharing Cities-SCP Plot are
tools which can be used to frame this new space and support
further research and policy development. Cities are arguably the
most important battle ground for transforming to a more circular
economy, and the sharing economy will be an integral component
of the transformation.
6. Final reﬂections on the sharing economy and future
As scholars we are in the nascent stage of developing concep-
tual, theoretical and empirical models for understanding the
emergence of the sharing economy and its potential for sustainable
development, as well as its impact on business models, the role of
peer-based platforms, industry incumbents and of course sharing
cities. One could interpret our analysis in this paper as an optimistic
perception of the contribution of the sharing economy to sustain-
able cities and sustainable development over all. The potential for
substantial and positive implications of the sharing economy in
cities on SCP is clearly present. Yet, empirical evidence is lacking to
ascertain the sharing economy's current impact, let alone future
potential. Is the sharing economy a passing fad, just one of many
new combinations being added to the global economy or some-
thing much bigger and more profound?
We do not know the answer to that question, and would argue
no one does yet. However, it is possible to consider what lasting
impact the sharing economy may have already had on economies
and society. In order to do that, we brieﬂy leverage the sharing
economy through the lens of the Social Construction of Technology
(SCOT), (Pinch and Bijker, 1984). Rather than view the emergence
and dominance of new technology artifacts as the result of a purely
objective assessment of the superiority of one technology over the
other, SCOT scholars suggest that the adoption of new technologies
occurs as a result of a complex and iterative interaction amongst
developers, users, regulatory agents and civil society. The intro-
duction of new business models and economic approaches such as
the sharing economy activities discussed herein, have already
created new, and often conﬂicting narratives amongst numerous
stakeholders with respect to the beneﬁts and drawbacks of sharing
activity, appropriate regulatory approaches and varying rates of
resistance and adoption from industry incumbents and peer groups
in territories around the globe. These narratives represent different
interpretations about what the sharing economy is, what it can and
can't do. The mere existence of sharing economy activities has
opened up the ﬁeld allowing for interpretative ﬂexibility. From this
perspective, the sharing economy has already had a lasting impact
on society in the sense that it has helped generate meaningful
discussion regarding the role of the economy in society, peer to
peer business models and alternatives to traditional capitalism.
Some voices in mainstream media have even argued that the post-
capitalist era has already begun (e.g. Mason, 2015), and that the
modern sharing models are a driving factor of this transformation.
The prevailing take-make-waste society is being challenged by
many sharing economy activities, which in their purest form, could
assist our global economy to reshape itself in a more sustainable
manner by leveraging technology (artifacts) to connect underutil-
ized resources with those in need of access to them, instead of
ownership of them. Which dominant paradigms and business
models will have staying power in the decades to come may be
anyone's guess, but what is certain is that the sharing economy has
already contributed to changing narratives about economic activity
at a local and global level.
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