The sharing economy needs both heart and wallet

Both the heart and the wallet must be involved if collaborative consumption – or the sharing economy – is to work. Certain operations have a more non-profit character, others are more commercial, and both types are equally important. This is the conclusion of a thesis recently presented at LiU.

Hugo Guyader at LiU a few days before his disputation. Photo credit: Mikael Sönne

Differencies and similarities

“Collaborative consumption” is a term used to describe donation, sharing, renting and borrowing, when they replace the more traditional processes of purchasing and owning. This requires an agreement between equals (peer-to-peer) who meet to exchange goods or services. Somewhere, a company exists that provides a technical platform that makes the exchange possible – and charges for the service.

This is to be compared with what is known as “access-based consumption” in which the consumer rents or borrows directly from a company. Two examples are the Volvo carpool, Sunfleet, and building suppliers that rent out tools and equipment.

In his thesis The Heart and Wallet Paradox of Collaborative Consumption Hugo Guyader investigates three companies and networks active in ridesharing. Svenska Skjutsgruppen does not aim to make a profit, and its goal is to come out financially even, while the international organisations Blablacar and Gomore are more commercial. The latter also provides leasing and car rental services.

“But even though these three are slightly different, both non-profit and commercial factors are important for all of them. Both the heart and the wallet must be involved”, says Hugo Guyader.

“The heart is a symbol for emotions and values such as community, affinity and a sharing ethos. The wallet means market orientation and economic considerations.”

Money and community

Two of the articles that comprise the thesis have been written from a company perspective, while two are based on consumers. Hugo Guyader has used both qualitative and quantitative methods, working with, for example, interviews, case studies and participant observation. On one occasion, he rideshared between Sweden and Paris, interviewing people in the cars as he travelled.

He believes that it is not possible to say which is the more important – the non-profit or commercial side. The opportunity to save money attracts consumers to start using a service, but it is their emotions, such as a feeling of community and belonging, that ensure that they continue.

“From a company perspective, money is required to start operation and construct the technical platform. It is then important to stimulate participation, if the company is to become stable and be able to grow."

"There are many examples of companies that have failed because they didn’t understand the logic of sharing that the grassroots movement employs.”

Everyone wins in the end

Hugo Guyader in his office at LiU.

Hugo Guyader considers that academic research into the sharing economy is underdeveloped, and hopes that his thesis will increase understanding of both commercial operations and consumer behaviour. Another important contribution is the definition of several concepts that mean nearly but not quite the same thing. Two examples are “collaborative consumption” and “access-based consumption”.

He is convinced that the sharing economy (as it is known in everyday speech) will grow. There are strong arguments from sustainability, economy and efficiency to support this. One advantage is that the sharing economy provides not only access to cheap goods and services for the user, but also an opportunity to earn extra money for the providers. Furthermore, the owner of the commercial platform gains from the exchange. “It’s a win-win-win situation”, he says.

Hugo Guyader successfully defended his thesis on Friday 15 March. The opponent was Professor Oksana Mont from Lund University.

Read more:

Here you find the whole thesis: The Heart and Wallet Paradoxe of Colloborative Consumption

Three websites about colloborative consumtion:

https://www.sharingcities.se/

http://www.kollekogbg.se/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/OuiShareSweden/

Contact
Show/Hide content

Latest news from LiU
Show/Hide content