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How sustainable is the sharing economy? On the sustainability connotations of sharing economy platforms

PublicationArticle (with peer review)
Andrea Geissinger, Christian Sandström, Christina Öberg, Christofer Laurell, sharing economy, sustainable

Abstract

The sharing economy has evolved and spread to various sectors of the economy. Its early idea linked to the creation of more sustainable uses of resources. Since then, the development of the sharing economy has included a professionalization with self-employed suppliers rather than peers, and the question is whether the platforms following this development maintain the focus on sustainability. This paper describes and classifies the sustainability connotation of sharing economy platforms. It analyses 121 platforms derived through social media analytics to figure out whether they describe themselves as sustainable. The findings suggest that the sustainability connotation closely connects to specific sectors such as fashion, on-demand services and logistics. Meanwhile, the dominant role model platforms do not communicate about being sustainable. These findings contribute to previous research through (1) giving a systematic empirical account on the way various sharing economy platforms describe themselves in terms of sustainability, (2) pointing out the differences among the platforms, and (3) indicating the diversity in sustainability connotation among various sectors of the economy.

Geissinger, A., Laurell, C., Öberg, C., & Sandström, C. (2019). How sustainable is the sharing economy? On the sustainability connotations of sharing economy platforms. Journal of Cleaner Production, 206, 419-429. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.09.196


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