Work and Cooperation in the Sharing Economy

The so-called sharing economy promises to fundamentally change consumption patterns, value chains as well as economic activities. In our research, we investigate, among other things, the efficiency, mechanics, and evolution of sharing markets, the impact of the sharing economy on market, industry, and employment structures, the role of data and data access, and the need for regulatory reforms. In addition, we investigate complementary aspects of the platform economy and Internet policy.

Sharing approaches enable new forms of allocation by using mostly idle capacities. New potentials for improving efficiency and increasing economic and ecological sustainability emerge above all through internet-based intermediation between suppliers and consumers. However, it is necessary to identify the associated risks and challenges and appropriately address them to exploit such potentials. This gives rise to a wealth of research questions that partially require interdisciplinary approaches or at least benefit from them.

Due to its interdisciplinary composition, the research group combines methods and perspectives from economics, law, sociology, and computer science. This enables the group to conduct studies and analyses that contribute to a more differentiated understanding of various individual phenomena and help identify and describe connections between them.

In their research projects the research group examines economic frameworks, trust, switching barriers, and participation in the sharing economy. Other key issues are the interplay between data and regulatory frameworks in the sharing economy, focusing on the online platform Airbnb, the role of trade unions in the organization and mobilization of workers in the gig economy, and switching barriers between online platforms. Furthermore, the group explores alternative sharing approaches in the context of digital infrastructures and addresses questions of internet policy – especially network neutrality.

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