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platforms2share Interdisciplinary Junior Research Group on Platform Economics

What opportunities do cooperative models and blockchain technology offer for the sharing economy? In cooperation with researchers at the University of Mannheim and the Fraunhofer IBP in Stuttgart, IÖW investigates forms of decentralization in the sharing economy at different levels and their effects.

Starting point and Research Question

New, digital forms of sharing, swapping and other ways of collaborative consumption in the sharing economy are widely associated with high expectations regarding their effects: Better resource efficiency or increased participation are just some examples of possible positive effects. However, existing platform organizations such as Airbnb or Uber are also increasingly being viewed critically in the public debate: Savings and pensions are centrally skimmed off, rebound effects due to additional consumption offset ecological benefits, and legal regulations are circumvented. One question is whether new technologies (e.g. blockchain technologies) and organizational forms (e.g. platform cooperatives) will better achieve potential positive effects. What opportunities do cooperative models and blockchain technology offer for the sharing economy?

Project Aims and Approach

platforms2share examines the design of platform organizations from different perspectives. In addition to the technological prerequisites and development paths of platform organizations (e.g. blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts), transformation potentials of cooperative organizational forms (e.g. cooperatives, platform cooperatives) and the institutional context are investigated. On an individual level, the project investigates the motives, characteristics and behavior of founders, employees and users of platform organizations. Moreover, possible social and macroeconomic effects such as distributional and welfare effects as well as influences on competition and market structures are explored. Ecological effects on the natural environment are examined taking rebound effects into account. For this purpose, existing methods of life cycle assessment (LCA) are being further developed.

The aim of the junior research group is to identify development paths and design options for the digital sharing economy with which a transformation towards a sustainable society can be promoted. Based on the impact analysis, regulatory implications are to be formulated which help to raise the socio-ecological potential of sharing economy cooperative platforms in the sharing economy.

IÖW Project Team