About

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The Initiative on the Sharing Economy sheds light on the growing trend away from the exclusive ownership and consumption of resources to one of shared use and consumption. Peer-to-peer shared mobility is a particular focus.

It was established by the Center for Transportation Studies in partnership with Saif Benjaafar, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, and other faculty members across the University of Minnesota and is administered by CTS.

What is the Sharing Economy?

The Sharing Economy—also known as collaborative consumption—is a growing trend away from the exclusive ownership and consumption of resources to one of shared use and consumption. It takes advantage of excess capacity for many categories of durable products and is facilitated by peer-to-peer online marketplaces (platforms). Applications include home sharing (AirBnB), car sharing (RelayRides (now Turo)), bike sharing (Nice Ride), office space (LiquidSpace), designer clothes (Style Lend), and parking spots (JustPark).

Collaborative consumption offers promise in several areas:

  • Generate income for owners; monetize expensive and rapidly depreciating assets
  • Provide access to those who may otherwise prefer not to own an expensive asset
  • Improve sustainability (e.g., fewer cars, lower emissions, less congestion, less need for parking)

Under the initiative, researchers aim to study the extent that collaborative consumption delivers on this promise and to identify any disadvantages or perils.

A day in the life: the sharing economy

Imagine that you wake up in the morning and make yourself breakfast with groceries delivered the night before by a close neighbor who had your grocery list via a social media platform. You leave your house, noticing that the renter using your spare bedroom has already left for the day (you make a little extra income this way, but it's not inconvenient because the renter has access to a separate entrance). You walk to the carpark and check the app on your smartphone for a car that you could rent for few hours; you locate one, unlock it with your smartphone, and drive to your meeting place.

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Contacts

Saif Benjaafar
Director, Initiative on the Sharing Economy
612-626-7239
saif@umn.edu

Michael McCarthy, Program Editor
612-624-3645
mpmccarthy@umn.edu