Sharing Theories and Insights

Sharing instead of owning is one of the major trends in modern (business) life (Belk, 2007, Botsman & Rogers, 2011). By changing how people consume, the rise of the sharing economy has the potential to redefine the role of owners, consumers and producers, change their mode of transaction, create innovative business models, disrupt existing industries and challenge political as well as regulative institutions (e.g. Lamberton & Rose, 2012; Matzler, Veider & Kathan, 2015; Acquier, Daudigeos, & Pinkse, 2017). Besides these practical implications, the sharing economy phenomenon represents a novel playground for theoretical advancement attracting a multitude of research and researchers from different disciplines. While this can potentially open up new ways for practice and theory to stimulate each other, they do not seem to go hand in hand at the moment (Cohen & Kietzmann, 2014; Belk, 2014). On the one hand, scholars complain that theoretical insights are lagging behind public discourse and practice. On the other hand, much research does not build on existing theories but rather remains descriptive and anecdotal (Murillo, Buckland & Val, 2017).

Despite the undisputed progress in better understanding the sharing economy by mapping and systematizing different application areas, market orientations or types of consumption (e.g. Botsman & Rogers, 2011; Sacks, 2011; Schor, 2014; Owyang, 2016) there is still a long way to go before we can close the gap between practical and theoretical development in the sharing economy. Hence, our aim is to bring together research and researchers from a wide variety of theoretical backgrounds and disciplines to encourage academic discourse on theorizing the sharing economy phenomenon by addressing the following questions:

  • How can existing theories and disciplines inform research in the sharing economy to better understand the practical phenomenon?
  • How can practical development in the sharing economy stimulate existing theories and trigger theory development?
  • How can contributions from different disciplines contribute to develop a holistic picture of the sharing economy?

Perspectives and research questions

We invite project and paper contributions that are grounded in different disciplines and theoretical perspectives, including organization theory, strategic management, information systems, political science, sociology, cultural studies, psychology, legal studies, economic geography, business history and others. Contributions can be conceptual, methodological or empirical and may include (but are not limited to) the following aspects and questions:

  • From an organization theory perspective: What are the new forms of organizing and coordinating sharing, bartering or lending? How can organizations deal with blurred organizational boundaries and shifting roles between owners, consumers and producers?
  • From a strategic perspective: How do business entrepreneurs as well as established companies create and discover opportunities in the sharing economy? What are the types and components of business models in the sharing economy? What are the implications for competitive strategies?
  • From an information technology perspective: What are socio-technical enablers and constraints of the sharing economy? How are online data captured and used for value creation? How can data security and privacy be ensured? What are the promises of new technologies; in particular the Blockchain technology? What leads to the adoption and diffusion of new technologies?
  • From a historical perspective: What are the common features of and differences between historic and modern sharing models? What can we learn from the tragedy/comedy of the commons?
  • From a sociological perspective: What role does ownership of platforms play? How do decentralized forms like platform cooperatives evolve and work? How are they different from other platforms or from old forms of cooperatives? What societal effects might they have?
  • From a political science perspective: What are the approaches to sharing of municipalities and other authorities? How do regulations on these different levels look like? How do they influence sharing organizations and established organizations and the interaction between the two?
  • From an economic and economy geography perspective: What are effective mechanisms for coordinating sharing in digitally mediated two-sided markets? What are the economic effects of the sharing economy on welfare, competition etc.? How does the institutional context in different geographical regions influence the spread and impact of sharing models? 


Acquier, A.; Daudigeos, T. and Pinkse, J. (in Press, 2017): Promises and paradoxes of the sharing economy: An organizing framework. In: Technological Forecasting & Social Change.

Belk, R. (2007): Why not share rather than own? In: Annals of the American academy of political and social science, Jg. 611(1), 126-140.

Belk, Russell (2014): You are what you can access: Sharing and collaborative consumption online. In: Journal of Business Research 67(8), 1595-1600.

Botsman, R. and Rogers, R. (2011): What’s Mine is Yours: How collaborative consumption is changing the way we live, London: Harper Collins.

Cohen, B. and Kietzmann, J. (2014): Ride On! Mobility Business Models for the Sharing Economy. In: Organization & Environment, 27(3), 279-296.

Lamberton, C.P. and Rose, R.L. (2012): When is ours better than mine? A framework for understanding and altering participation in commercial sharing systems. In: Journal of Marketing, 76(4), 109-125.

Matzler, K.; Veider, V. and Kathan, W. (2015): Adapting to the sharing economy. In: MIT Sloan Management Review, 56(2), 71-77.

Murillo, D.; Buckland, H. and Val, E. (in Press, 2017): When the sharing economy becomes neoliberalism on steroids: Unravelling the controversies. In: Technological Forecasting & Social Change.

Owyang, J. (2016): Honeycomb 3.0: The Collaborative Economy Market Expansion. Retrieved 17. 05. 2017, from Jeremiah Owyang Blog: www.web- sxsw/

Sacks, D. (2011): The Sharing Economy. In: Fast Company, 155, 88-131. Schor, J. (2014) Debating the Sharing Economy. Great Transition Initiative.