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Preventing Conflicts in Sharing Communities as a Means of Promoting Sustainability

Competence Center for Empirical Research Methods, Vienna University of Economics and Business, 1020 Wien, Austria
Institute of Organization Science, Johannes Kepler University Linz, 4040 Linz, Austria
Institute for International Marketing Management, Vienna University of Economics and Business, 1020 Wien, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2828;
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 4 August 2018 / Accepted: 6 August 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
PDF [539 KB, uploaded 9 August 2018]


The sharing economy is a new promising trend with many positive outcomes on society and the environment, as it provides potential for sustainable solutions due to the reduction of resource consumption and less waste. However, research and practice show that sharing comes with its own share of problems. People often act selfishly, and in worst-case scenarios try to take advantage of others without contributing to the shared good. To achieve the higher goal of sustainability, it is important that conflicts in the sharing economy are prevented, and a setting is achieved that allows people to easily behave in a cooperative and sustainable way. The present research examines which conflicts emerge in sharing communities (study 1) and community gardens in particular (study 2), and whether regulation can prevent conflicts in large groups. Two exploratory studies were conducted. First, a qualitative study with consumers and non-consumers of the sharing economy revealed that regulatory systems are perceived as important for preventing the exploitation of other community members, but also that cooperation should not be enforced with strict controls and punishment. Rather, problems should be discussed in a democratic group setting, rules and goals should be set up together, and trust should be built. Second, a questionnaire study with community gardeners in Austria confirmed these results, and showed that trust is related to less conflict in community gardens, while harsh forms of regulation are related to a potential for greater conflict. Additionally, the results indicate that soft forms of regulation are related to fewer relationship and task conflicts, better conflict resolutions, a high sense of community, and greater trust in the community. We then discuss how these findings can be used to regulate sharing economy activities and give limitations and directions for future studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: sharing economy; sustainability; community gardens; conflicts; regulation sharing economy; sustainability; community gardens; conflicts; regulation

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Sabitzer, T.; Hartl, B.; Marth, S.; Hofmann, E.; Penz, E. Preventing Conflicts in Sharing Communities as a Means of Promoting Sustainability. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2828.

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