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Markus Höllerer

Video Markus Höllerer

Markus Höllerer

Researcher of the Month

Shar­ing Economy: Op­por­tun­it­ies and chal­lenges for city ad­min­is­tra­tions

“Shar­ing economy” refers to the in­creas­ing trend to­wards “shar­ing rather than own­ing” and is, these days, a pre­dom­in­antly urban phenomenon. People share not only apart­ments, cars, bi­cycles, and most re­cently e-s­coot­ers, but also tools, of­fice space, com­munity gar­dens, and much more. A cur­rent study by WU Pro­fessor Markus Höllerer and his team demon­strates that city ad­min­is­tra­tions world­wide are con­fron­ted with vari­ous op­por­tun­it­ies and chal­lenges res­ult­ing from the shar­ing economy, and that cit­ies show con­sid­er­able vari­ation both in their in­ter­pret­a­tions of the shar­ing economy and in cor­res­pond­ing gov­ernance re­sponses.

The emer­gence of the shar­ing economy is cer­tainly one of the most re­mark­able examples of new ways of or­gan­iz­ing and in­nov­at­ive busi­ness mod­els in the re­cent years. Un­like early forms pre­val­ent in rural com­munit­ies, the mod­ern shar­ing economy is a pre­dom­in­antly urban phenomenon. Many people put their hopes in the shar­ing economy as a har­binger of in­creased so­cial re­spons­ib­il­ity, sus­tain­ab­il­ity, and eco­lo­gical trans­ition. This trend, however, presents city ad­min­is­tra­tions with some ma­jor chal­lenges, as shown by re­cent devel­op­ments also in the City of Vi­enna (see OBike fail­ure – article in Ger­man). De­bates range from fair com­pet­i­tion to tax­a­tion of shar­ing economy or­gan­iz­a­tions, to en­sur­ing ap­pro­pri­ate so­cial se­cur­ity stand­ards for “em­ploy­ees” in the shar­ing economy. At WU, Markus Höllerer, head of the In­sti­tute for Pub­lic Man­age­ment and Gov­ernance, is cur­rently con­duct­ing a re­search pro­ject in co­oper­a­tion with the City of Vi­enna. One spe­cific study is look­ing at how city ad­min­is­tra­tions world­wide in­ter­pret the shar­ing economy and come up with cor­res­pond­ing gov­ernance re­sponses. “The shar­ing economy presents city gov­ern­ments with some novel chal­lenges: For example, how should the City of Vi­enna re­act to the con­flicts between Uber and co. and the Vi­enna taxi in­dustry? What should they do with the mul­ti­tudes of bi­cycles or e-s­coot­ers strewn ran­domly about the city streets? Or how about the in­creas­ing scarcity of liv­ing space res­ult­ing from the grow­ing num­bers of apart­ments ren­ted out over Airbnb?” says Höllerer.


Many ap­proaches, little con­ver­gence

Höllerer and his team com­pared pos­i­tion pa­pers is­sued by global cit­ies, as well as the dis­cus­sion and de­cision-­mak­ing pro­cesses be­hind them, and, in a first step, out­lined the main fram­ings of op­por­tun­it­ies and chal­lenges the shar­ing economy is per­ceived to present. In a second step, the study fo­cuses on the gov­ernance in­stru­ments city ad­min­is­tra­tions are em­ploy­ing in re­sponse. “Our ana­lyses show di­verse res­ults. Over­all, cit­ies, espe­cially in con­tin­ental Europe, are still un­sure of what the shar­ing economy really means for their spe­cific situ­ation – and con­sequently how they should be deal­ing with it.” The col­lec­ted data do in­dic­ate cer­tain ini­tial trends, however. Cit­ies that gen­er­ally in­ter­pret the shar­ing economy as so­ci­etal en­hance­ment are more likely to call in ex­perts and con­sider provid­ing mu­ni­cipal shar­ing pro­grams. Cit­ies that per­ceive the shar­ing economy as so­ci­etal en­dan­ger­ment, on the other hand, re­act with reg­u­la­tion ef­forts. An in­ter­pret­a­tion that em­phas­izes mar­ket dis­rup­tion leads to a stronger ori­ent­a­tion of a city’s gov­ernance re­sponse to­wards other ad­min­is­tra­tions, both na­tional and in­ter­na­tional, while cit­ies that see the shar­ing economy as an op­por­tun­ity for eco­lo­gical trans­ition are more likely to turn to com­pre­hens­ive in­form­a­tion cam­paigns, sup­port meas­ures, and part­ner­ships with shar­ing economy or­gan­iz­a­tions.


Bet­ter over­view

“Our work will help to bet­ter un­der­stand the shar­ing economy, in all its di­versity and with its many dif­fer­ent fa­cets. We point out which gov­ernance op­tions city ad­min­is­tra­tions po­ten­tially have at their dis­posal, and which in­stru­ments have proven to be prac­tic­able in in­ter­na­tional com­par­ison,” ex­plains Höllerer. “For shar­ing economy or­gan­iz­a­tions, we of­fer a sys­tem­atic over­view of the rel­ev­ant frame­work con­di­tions; for the cit­izens us­ing such ser­vices, we are try­ing to cre­ate aware­ness of the in­her­ent ad­vant­ages, dis­ad­vant­ages, and trade-offs.” The vir­tual map of Vi­enna cre­ated by Höllerer and his team in co­oper­a­tion with the City of Vi­enna provides an over­view of the vari­ety of cur­rent shar­ing op­tions avail­able in the city.

The pro­ject