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In July 2015, Nesta commissioned BOP to explore the nature and scale of the Sharing Economy within Sharing Cities. Building on the great work achieved by platforms like Shareable, and reflecting our view that organisations need to open out, this study explored sharing movements in ten cities.
Differing in scale, geography, and in the extent to which they actively promoted themselves as ‘Sharing Cities’, these were: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Christchurch (NZ), Dallas, Delhi, Manchester, Melbourne, Porto Alegre and Seoul.
Within each city we explored six dimensions of the Sharing Economy: community engagement, environmental sustainability, business growth, regulation, promotion, as well as procurement and commissioning.
What we found
1. The Sharing Economy is growing.
There is clear evidence of growth in sharing activity across all six of our dimensions in each of the cities in our survey
2. The Sharing Economy is diverse and responds to different drivers.
The Sharing Economy, like the ‘real’ economy, results from a combination of top-down policy interventions and bottom-up grass roots independent movements. It works best when there are high levels of both bottom-up and top-down activity and these are well-coordinated. The influence of individual communities reflects the distinctive culture, socio-economic conditions and aspirations of cities and citizens across the world.
3. There are some important similarities between grassroots movements across the world.
Within the great variety of political, socio-economic and cultural motivations for engagement in sharing activity, the commitment to environmental sustainability – closely related to ideas of a ‘circular’ economy, and a shared ambition to create a fairer, less ecologically damaging distribution of wealth and natural resources - is a particularly important driver for the engagement of individuals and businesses within grassroots movements.
4. The Sharing Economy encompasses a range of business models.
Sharing Economy principles have been adopted by a diverse range of businesses, from social enterprises operating in a single locality to transnational venture capital-backed commercial platforms. Though these models differ substantially, they all adopt the Sharing Economy’s fundamental principle of connecting distributed networks of people and/or assets through use of internet technologies.
5. The regulatory approach has been mostly reactive.
Even those places which promote themselves as ‘Sharing Cities’ tend to develop regulation in response to issues as they emerge, rather than a result of a considered and evidence-based policy intervention that targets growth in the Sharing Economy. This can have unintended and negative consequences for individual businesses and for growth .
6. Procurement and commissioning of sharing initiatives by local government is the weakest dimension of Sharing City activity.
Even where cities actively promote the Sharing Economy, this has not necessarily resulted in a sustained effort to include sharing principles among criteria for local government procurement and commissioning.
UK offers tax breaks to boost Sharing Economy
Asia embraces the Sharing Economy
The Sharing Economy meets its match
If you are interested in contributing to further work on Sharing Cities, please get in touch below.
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By BOP Consulting
Jonathan is an economist with over a decade’s experience in impact assessment and evaluation, and high-level policy experience, particularly within the cultural and creative sectors.
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