Envisioning the ‘Sharing City’: Governance Strategies for the Sharing Economy

Journal of Business Ethics 159 (4):1023-1046 (2019)
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Abstract

Recent developments around the sharing economy bring to the fore questions of governability and broader societal benefit—and subsequently the need to explore effective means of public governance, from nurturing, on the one hand, to restriction, on the other. As sharing is a predominately urban phenomenon in modern societies, cities around the globe have become both locus of action and central actor in the debates over the nature and organization of the sharing economy. However, cities vary substantially in the interpretation of potential opportunities and challenges, as well as in their governance responses. Building on a qualitative comparative analysis of 16 leading global cities, our findings reveal four framings of the sharing economy: ‘societal endangerment,’ ‘societal enhancement,’ ‘market disruption,’ and ‘ecological transition.’ Such framings go hand in hand with patterned governance responses: although there is considerable heterogeneity in the combination of public governance strategies, we find specific configurations of framings and public governance strategies. Our work reflects the political and ethical debates on various economic, social, and moral issues related to the sharing economy, and contributes to a better understanding of the field-level institutional arrangements—a prerequisite for examining moral behavior of sharing economy organizations.

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