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Special Issue "Sharing Economy and Its Role in Fostering Sustainability: How Trust and Regulation Shape Relations of Providers and Consumers"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elfriede Penz

WU Vienna, Welthandelsplatz 1, A-1020 Vienna, Austria
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainable consumption; sustainable business practices; sharing economy
Guest Editor
Dr. Barbara Hartl

WU Vienna, Welthandelsplatz 1, A-1020 Vienna, Austria; & Johannes Kepler University Linz, Altenberger Str. 69, A-4040 Linz, Austria
Website | E-Mail
Interests: published and ongoing research on the sharing economy
Guest Editor
Dr. Eva Hofmann

WU Vienna, Welthandelsplatz 1, A-1020 Vienna, Austria
Website | E-Mail
Interests: cooperation in the economic context specifically on the sharing economy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Adopting a sustainable lifestyle can put a stop to exploitation of natural resources. Part of such a sustainable lifestyle, which has become popular, is to share goods. The hope is that it will foster sustainability due to resource efficiency and reductions in waste. In the sharing economy, instead of buying goods and owning them, consumers gain temporarily access to goods they need. Today, people can engage in the sharing economy in almost all business areas, including tourism (e.g., AirBnB), entertainment (e.g., public book shelves), food (e.g., food coops), and transport (e.g., Zipcar). Thus, the sharing economy is on the rise.

For the sharing economy, the relationship between providers and consumers, and consequently trust building measures and adequate regulations, such as reputation systems, are crucial. Trust is important in the sharing economy, where traditional market rules are abrogated and respective legislation has not been generated yet. If the interaction between providers and consumers cannot be regulated comprehensively with trust, regulations become essential.

This Special Issue aims to explore and explain how, why, and when a sustainable lifestyle is adopted and participation in the sharing economy becomes key. It further shows how this affects businesses, platforms, and consumers by following an interdisciplinary approach. The Special Issue will provide deeper insights for businesses, legislators and researchers how to design and regulate the sharing economy. These aims will be met by calling for both conceptual and empirical research on either of these concepts and encouraging meta-analysis or systematic literature reviews. Specifically, we look for contributions regarding:

  • Relationship between sustainability and sharing economy: resource efficiency and waste reduction
  • Building of consumer communities engaging in the sharing economy with the aim to foster sustainability
  • Challenges for organizations in the sharing economy with regard to trust building and regulation
  • The design of sustainable virtual environments as market place of sharing economy

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elfriede Penz
Dr. Barbara Hartl
Dr. Eva Hofmann
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Sharing economy
  • Sustainable lifestyle
  • Trust
  • Regulation
  • Provider and consumer interaction

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Collectively Building a Sustainable Sharing Economy Based on Trust and Regulation
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3754; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103754
Received: 15 October 2018 / Accepted: 16 October 2018 / Published: 18 October 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (178 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The articles in this Special Issue on the sharing economy’s role in fostering sustainability comprise eight contributions to answer how trust and regulation shape relations of providers and consumers. We identify indispensable aspects of the sharing economy to show its potential in fostering [...] Read more.
The articles in this Special Issue on the sharing economy’s role in fostering sustainability comprise eight contributions to answer how trust and regulation shape relations of providers and consumers. We identify indispensable aspects of the sharing economy to show its potential in fostering sustainability. This is in some contrast to existing definitions and applications of sharing economy business models, which do not place sustainability in their focus. The studies employ a variety of methods, covering quantitative and qualitative research to investigate building of communities on the consumer side, as well as trust-building and implementation of regulations in the interaction between providers and consumers in Asia and Europe. Some areas in the sharing economy foster sustainability, some foster social cohesion and in the end build social capital, but others focus at first sight on convenience and lifestyle. Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessArticle
A Study on Airbnb’s Trust Mechanism and the Effects of Cultural Values—Based on a Survey of Chinese Consumers
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3041; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093041
Received: 1 July 2018 / Revised: 21 August 2018 / Accepted: 23 August 2018 / Published: 27 August 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1922 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A sharing economy is developing rapidly worldwide, especially in China. Trust has been considered as a crucial factor in facilitating the practice of the short-term rental business, where hosts and renters are strangers. However, not only has the inherent trust-building mechanism of this [...] Read more.
A sharing economy is developing rapidly worldwide, especially in China. Trust has been considered as a crucial factor in facilitating the practice of the short-term rental business, where hosts and renters are strangers. However, not only has the inherent trust-building mechanism of this newly emerged business model not been fully explored, but how cultural values affect the trust-building path also remains unknown. This study proposes a model of the trust-building mechanism in the sharing economy platforms, with three central modes—institutional trust, product trust, and interpersonal trust—and introduces national cultural values dimensions at the individual level as moderators to explore the impact on the inherent mechanism of trust-building on Airbnb. The data collected from 210 Chinese Airbnb consumers by survey provides support for the proposed structural equation model. The results show that institutional trust has a positive influence on product trust and interpersonal trust, and that product trust has a positive influence on interpersonal trust as well. For the moderating effect of cultural values, the relationship between the institutional trust and product trust is regulated by power distance (PDI), individualism (IDV), uncertainty avoidance (UAI), and long-term orientation (LTO), while the relationship between product trust and interpersonal trust is regulated by PDI, IDV, and UAI. This paper indicates that in order to foster trust in the sharing economy, practitioners should enhance institutional trust, product trust, and interpersonal trust synchronously, as these three modes of trust are positively inter-related; they must also be sensitive to local cultural value dispositions when conduct sharing business internationally. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Online and Offline Communities in the Sharing Economy
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2927; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082927
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 13 August 2018 / Accepted: 15 August 2018 / Published: 17 August 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (636 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The online community is crucial to sharing economy platforms because without it, no transactions can take place. Online communities have been studied extensively, but so far, little attention has been paid to how they link to different offline communities, such as geographic (e.g., [...] Read more.
The online community is crucial to sharing economy platforms because without it, no transactions can take place. Online communities have been studied extensively, but so far, little attention has been paid to how they link to different offline communities, such as geographic (e.g., neighborhoods) and relational communities (e.g., friends and colleagues). In this study, we address this gap by examining the importance of communities to the users and the entrepreneurs of the goods-sharing platform Ecomodo. We conduct a qualitative content analysis of archival and interview data to uncover the importance of different communities and the relationships among them. We discover that the platform design aimed to facilitate lending and borrowing in relational communities. However, geographic communities were more important to the users since most of them joined the platform to be acquainted with their neighbors. We also find that the platform entrepreneurs underestimated the behavioral changes needed to use the platform. The producers were not used to asking for money to lend their possessions, and it was difficult to teach consumers to borrow instead of buying. We use these findings to offer recommendations to practitioners and discuss some avenues for further research. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Preventing Conflicts in Sharing Communities as a Means of Promoting Sustainability
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2828; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082828
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 4 August 2018 / Accepted: 6 August 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (539 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Designing Interventions for Behavioral Shifts toward Product Sharing: The Case of Laundry Activities in Japan
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2687; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082687
Received: 29 June 2018 / Revised: 26 July 2018 / Accepted: 27 July 2018 / Published: 31 July 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1456 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper presents design approaches to induce behavioral shifts toward product sharing through a case study on laundry activities in Japan. Business models involving provision of temporary access to goods are garnering attention as a way to reduce environmental impacts from the current [...] Read more.
This paper presents design approaches to induce behavioral shifts toward product sharing through a case study on laundry activities in Japan. Business models involving provision of temporary access to goods are garnering attention as a way to reduce environmental impacts from the current pattern of consumption. However, the success of such business models is a matter of consumer choice, and there exist hurdles for consumers to forego ownership and transfer to product sharing. To understand the forces that affect consumer behavior involving product sharing and to design effective interventions for behavioral shifts, we conducted in-depth interviews and a web survey. From the results, we specified the decision processes in a behavioral shift between home washing and laundromat use, and generated “implementation of a communal laundromat in an apartment building” as a promising way for consumers to shift toward laundromat use. Based on our calculation, the proposed approach has a potential to reduce environmental impact of a hypothetical community by 1.8% in greenhouse gas emissions and 16% in resource use relative to when only home washing is practiced. Our study provides an example of designing interventions for product sharing through reflecting actual usage patterns and consumer motivations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Reputation Effects in Socially Driven Sharing Economy Transactions
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2674; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082674
Received: 25 June 2018 / Revised: 23 July 2018 / Accepted: 26 July 2018 / Published: 30 July 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1033 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Reputation has often been proposed as the central mechanism that creates trust in the sharing economy. However, some sharing platforms that focus primarily on social rather than economically driven exchanges have managed to facilitate exchanges between users without the use of a reputation [...] Read more.
Reputation has often been proposed as the central mechanism that creates trust in the sharing economy. However, some sharing platforms that focus primarily on social rather than economically driven exchanges have managed to facilitate exchanges between users without the use of a reputation system. This could indicate that socially driven exchanges are in less need of reputation systems and that having sufficient trust is less problematic. We examine the effect of seller reputation on sales and price as proxies for trust, using a large dataset from a Dutch meal-sharing platform. This platform aims to stimulate social interactions between people via meal sharing. Multilevel regression analyses were used to test the association of reputation with trust. Our main empirical results are that reputation affects both sales and price positively, consistent with the existing reputation literature. We also found evidence of the presence of an information effect, i.e., the influence of reputation on sharing decreases when additional profile information is provided (e.g., a profile photo, a product description). Our results thus confirm the effectiveness of reputation in more socially driven exchanges also. Consequently, platform owners are advised to use reputation on their platform to increase sharing between its users. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
How Corporate Sharewashing Practices Undermine Consumer Trust
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2638; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082638
Received: 27 June 2018 / Revised: 20 July 2018 / Accepted: 23 July 2018 / Published: 27 July 2018
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (520 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sharewashing describes a platform’s act of misleading consumers by purposely portraying an image of social and ecological principles while the platform’s business model does not necessarily involve them. Drawing on Corporate Social Responsibility and Green Marketing literature, we propose and evaluate a research [...] Read more.
Sharewashing describes a platform’s act of misleading consumers by purposely portraying an image of social and ecological principles while the platform’s business model does not necessarily involve them. Drawing on Corporate Social Responsibility and Green Marketing literature, we propose and evaluate a research model for investigating the impact of sharewashing perceptions on consumer trust. Based on survey data from 145 millennials, our results reveal a significant negative effect of sharewashing perceptions on consumer trust, partially mediated by perceptions of risk and confusion. We discuss our findings in view of their practical and strategic relevance to sharing economy platform operators. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of the Relationship Characteristics and Social Capital of the Sharing Economy Business on the Social Network, Relationship Competitive Advantage, and Continuance Commitment
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2203; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072203
Received: 19 May 2018 / Revised: 25 June 2018 / Accepted: 27 June 2018 / Published: 27 June 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1313 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study assessed relationship characteristics and social capital from the perspective of interdependent linkage between sharing economy businesses and consumers, which can create the social network and relationship competitive advantage. It verified the importance of the creative production process of the value network [...] Read more.
This study assessed relationship characteristics and social capital from the perspective of interdependent linkage between sharing economy businesses and consumers, which can create the social network and relationship competitive advantage. It verified the importance of the creative production process of the value network of sharing economy businesses. For this purpose, the statistical techniques were used to perform frequency, reliability/validity, suitability, and path analyses on 522 subjects active in sharing economy service communities. A structural model was thus proposed. The results of the study are as follows. First, the results of the path analysis between the relationship characteristics and social network (social relationships, social commitment) of sharing economy businesses showed that mutual influence and emotional connection had a significant effect on social relationships, and mutual influence, sense of belonging, and emotional connection had a significant effect on social commitment. Second, the results of the path analysis between social capital and social network (social relationships, social commitment) of sharing economy businesses showed that pursuit for self-fulfillment, social participation, and pleasure had a significant effect on social commitment. Third, the results of the path analysis between the social relationships, social commitment, relationship competitive advantage, and continuance commitment of sharing economy businesses showed that social relationships and social commitment had a significant effect on relationship competitive advantage, while relationship competitive advantage had a significant effect on continuance commitment. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Empirical Examination of Users’ Adoption of the Sharing Economy in China Using an Expanded Technology Acceptance Model
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1262; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041262
Received: 8 February 2018 / Revised: 10 April 2018 / Accepted: 13 April 2018 / Published: 19 April 2018
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (1576 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
With the popularity of sharing-based applications such as bicycle and car sharing, the sharing economy has attracted considerable global attention. The factors that affect users’ adoption of the sharing economy must be identified to facilitate the promotion of low-carbon lifestyles and help enterprises [...] Read more.
With the popularity of sharing-based applications such as bicycle and car sharing, the sharing economy has attracted considerable global attention. The factors that affect users’ adoption of the sharing economy must be identified to facilitate the promotion of low-carbon lifestyles and help enterprises attract more active users. By employing the technology acceptance model (TAM) and herd behavior, this study implemented an expanded TAM and identified several factors affecting behavioral intention (BI) toward the sharing economy. A questionnaire was used to obtain the data, which were analyzed through structural equation modeling. The results revealed that perceived usefulness (PU) and perceived ease of use (PEOU) are the main factors affecting BI. Moreover, trust (TRU) was identified as a mediator of subjective norm (SN) and PEOU. Imitating others (IMI) affects BI, and SN affects TRU, PU, and PEOU. Gender moderates SN and IMI. This paper indicates that to improve users’ BI, enterprises should enhance PU, PEOU, and TRU; cooperate with organizations to enhance SN; and guide potential users to imitate others. Full article
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