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The Dark Side of the Sharing Economy

Semper Ardens: Accelerate


The idea of shared access has transformed various aspects of consumers’ lives, such as mobility services (e.g., car sharing), fashion rentals, or peer-to-peer offers (e.g., Airbnb). Such services are considered to lead to positive societal outcomes. However, there have been increasing accounts of the dark side of the sharing economy.

The awarded research project will combine economic and sociological perspectives to investigate negative externalities of the sharing economy and to develop recommendations on how potential drawbacks may be overcome. Specifically, the project will examine whether the availability of sharing economy services leads to an increase rather than a decrease of owned resources, and how and under which circumstances customer misbehavior occurs in access-based contexts.


Extant research has predominantly viewed the sharing economy through a positive theoretical lens, examining aspects such as consumers’ motives and barriers to adoption or the interplay between various actors on sharing platforms. However, the lack of ownership may call into question basic premises and theoretical viewpoints of consumer behavior.

There have been increasing practitioner accounts of the dark side of the sharing economy. Specifically, shared access may not always lead to more prosocial behavior and less ownership but create opposite effects.


Drawing from an extensive literature review, this research project will combine primary data collection via field and lab experiments with secondary data collection.


The sharing economy is viewed as important in achieving a circular economy and as contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Understanding its dark side will help public policy makers and businesses to understand and ultimately address potentially detrimental consequences.