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Sharing Economy and Industry Disruption



​​The sharing economy is an economic model often defined as a peer-to-peer (P2P) based activity of acquiring, providing or sharing access to goods and services that are facilitated by a community based on-line platform (Wikipedia). It is predicted that the sharing economy will grow to $335 billion by 2025. Despite of the proliferation, the rapid growth of sharing economy is believed to disrupt and threaten the traditional business. For example, the rise of the so-called “sharing economy” creates fierce competition in many industries, such as hotels and taxicab industries through Airbnb, Uber and Lyft.

In addition, sharing economy may also bring many problems. Criticism of the sharing economy often involves regulato​ry uncertainty. For example, unlicensed individual can offer rental services and charge lower prices. In addition, sharing greater amount of information in the shared platform can create misuse of personal information, racial and gender bias.

This research focus is to answer several research questions:  What are the common legitimacy challenges with the appearance of sharing economic? How can these legitimacy challenges be overcome?

  • Project 1. Sharing Economy Disruption and the Quest for New Institutional Legitimacy
    Innovation in ICT has disrupted established industries and led to the emergence of new business models such as the likes of Uber and Airbnb, which promise to democratize socio-economic relations, bringing new value to customers, workers, and society at large. But as the new business models emerge, they have stirred up many controversies, challenged by various stakeholders (e.g., complaints of unfair work practices, protests by people whose livelihoods are affected, concerns expressed by law enforcers) in a tussle for new legitimacy. In this research, I seek to understand the chaotic process in the dynamic struggle for new legitimacy. What are the inherent legitimacy challenges in such tech disruptions? How can these legitimacy challenges be overcome? How are the tech disruptors able to influence the field-level processes of institutionalization to gain legitimacy? Adopting an institutional lens, the project investigates the dynamic process in negotiating a new “normal” for regulative legitimacy, normative legitimacy, and cultural-cognitive legitimacy. Through longitudinal case analysis of successful tech disruptors in different industries, ranging from urban transport (e.g., Uber, Go-Jek), accommodation (e.g., Airbnb), and the highly institutionalized financial industry (e.g., Ant Financial), passive and active legitimatization actions enacted by these tech disruptors are also identified and analyzed.

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