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About this book

This book explores all aspects of the sharing economy, pursuing a multidisciplinary approach encompassing Service Design, Spatial Design, Sociology, Economics, Law, and Transport and Operations Research. The book develops a unified vision of sharing services, and pinpoints the most important new challenges. The first, more theoretical part covers general topics from the perspectives of experts in the respective disciplines. Among the subjects addressed are the role of the user in co-design and co-production; impacts of sharing services on cities, communities, and private spaces; individual rewarding and social outcomes; regulatory issues; and the scope for improving the efficiency of design, management, and analysis of sharing services. In turn, the second part of the book presents a selection of case studies of specific sharing services, in which many of the concepts described in the first part are put into practice. Readers will gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of sharing services and of the hidden problems that may arise. Key factors responsible for the success (or failure) of sharing services are identified by analyzing some of the best (and worst) practices. Given its breadth of coverage, the book offers a valuable guide for researchers and for all stakeholders in the sharing economy, including startup founders and local administrators.

Table of Contents


Multidisciplinary Tools


A Service Design Approach to Analyse, Map and Design Sharing Services

This chapter explores the relationship between sharing economy and service design to describe how the latter can contribute to innovation in designing sharing services. In the initial part of the chapter, a short summary on innovation in services and its relationship with the service design is described. In the central part, some case studies analysed during the SERSE research are reported in order to define a model of analysis based on three design features for designing services in and for the sharing economy: collaboration, participation and networking. In the final section, some design reflections on the contribution of service design in the sharing and collaborative economy are outlined.
Beatrice Villari

Co-design in a ‘Social’ Sharing Economy. Understanding Levels of Citizen Participation in Collaborative Services

The aim of this chapter is to discuss a ‘minor’ characteristic of the sharing economy, focused on local exchange trading systems that arise from creative communities and local social innovations. This is the ‘social side’ of the sharing economy, quite different from the well-known digital platforms that are actually multinational companies allowing commercial exchanges amongst a variety of actors. As service designers researching in the field of social innovation, we are interested in exploring the sharing economy under this particular perspective; more specifically, we wish to centre on the contribution of the user (or, better, of the community of citizens–users) in developing this new generation of collaborative services. To do so, we build upon a series of Italian case studies coming from the ‘Creative Citizens’ programme held within the POLIMI DESIS Laboratory of the Politecnico di Milano. Finally, we discuss the interconnection between the various levels of citizen participation in such collaborative services, starting from co-design and then focusing on co-production, co-management and co-ownership. More specifically, highlighting how co-design may be a powerful means to pre-define roles and responsibilities, from both a practical and a formal point of view.
Daniela Selloni

Between the Digital and the Physical: Reinventing the Spaces to Accommodate Sharing Services

The sharing economy is based on a mentality shift of the people that are everyday more lean to share their private life through the social networks with a resulting establishment of a collective consciousness and an increase of trust in each other through the act of sharing. Consequently, the physical spaces must also be considered today as new entities involved in the phenomena of sharing, supporting, together with their environmental, functional and aesthetic characteristics, the various sharing activities. Moreover, in the information society, we live simultaneously in different spaces and times and the digital access to services sometimes needs to be transformed into something more physical to permit the real exchange of experience and knowledge, to meet real people in a material arena. The boundary between virtual and physical space is getting everyday thinner and more invisible because, nowadays, digital devices are defining the landscape in the urban scenario, establishing interactions and links regardless of the materiality of a place itself. What happens is a sort of dematerialization of the physical space which supports a no-stop digital flow, filtered by the social system of relationships. People in fact assume the role of the interface between the two spaces, defining urban landscape and spatial relationships through digital systems. According to the principles of sharing economy, people may act as a physical link into the space in order not to lose the relationships that take place in the physical dimension, while the current social life is quickly shifting to a virtual scale. Sharing activities in the public space would transform the city scenario itself into a stage for people aggregation, where users generate an online/offline information’ landscape through physical–digital actions, defining and designing at the same time flow patterns in both physical and virtual spaces. In this context, the aim of this chapter is to analyse how the use of space changes in the different sharing services and how it should be redesigned to accommodate them to the best, according to experts of spatial design.
Giovanna Piccinno

Shared Hospitality Platforms: Possible Design Repercussions, Introverted and Extroverted

This chapter aims to explore possible implications, in the spatial design field, of new forms of hospitality that have emerged with the sharing economy. In particular, after a first analysis of the current state of contemporary cities and their rapid evolution towards increasingly fluid formats, the temporal variable is identified as a possible key. It influences the design approach from an extrovert point of view and therefore an urban transformation that starts from the interior space, which introverts, moving towards a change in the discipline approach to the design of domestic interiors.
Laura Galluzzo, Giulia Gerosa

Reinventing the Hospitality: Sharing Economy and New Hospitality Formats

This chapter analyses the influence of the sharing economy upon the design of hospitality spaces from the specific point of view of the interior design. In particular the analysis is dedicated to describe how the impact of the web platforms on the hospitality based on the sharing of spaces and services—especially AirBnB for the global relevance—are transforming the hospitality system based on hotels and hostels not only introducing new formats and new concepts in this field, but also stimulating a relevant afterthought of the interpretation of hospitality. In the contemporary society, collective spaces are considered very relevant to civic, architectural, urban and morphological richness of a contemporary city. In particular the spaces for hospitality, like hotels and hostels, but also new formats recently developed and strictly related to the domestic sphere, are also acquiring more and more relevance because this typology of spaces has been very sensitive to the social, economic and cultural transformations related to new ways of living–working–travelling based on “in-motion” lifestyle. Spaces to welcome people who spend their life “in transit” acquire a meaningful importance determining the massive increase of the use and the design of innovative hybrid spatial solutions able not only to answer to new needs and behaviours, but also to translate new collaborative processes in inclusive places where guests/people “feel like at home”.
Francesco Scullica, Elena Elgani

Individual Rewarding and Social Outcomes in the Collaborative Economy

The sharing economy has spread since 2004, but it is only in recent years that consultants and academics have started doing empirical research. The first evidences—even amid still contradictory results—show a common finding: while sharing platforms aimed their communication on the values of sociability and sustainability, consumers use more often the platform for convenience or savings. This does not exclude that from this type of individual motivations can descend collective advantages, but it is naive to attribute these results to a direct intent. It is also useful to distinguish between different forms of sharing economy: if the rental economy is often moved by rationally purposeful actions and those related to forms of reciprocity by affective actions, the motivations behind common pooling practices can be traced to the concept of “contribution” developed to explain the connective actions in open source communities.
Davide Arcidiacono, Ivana Pais

Effective Design and Management of Shared Transport Services: New Challenges for Operational Research

The aim of this chapter is to review and analyze the contribution of Operational Research (OR) in both the design and the management of shared transport services. If, on the one hand, for some specific fields, such as mobility services or collaborative logistics, there are several studies showing the benefit provided by OR (e.g., the impact of vehicle relocation algorithms in the management of bike/car sharing services), on the other hand, there are a lot of potential applications of OR that deserve to be still investigated.
Maurizio Bruglieri

Regulating (and Self-regulating) the Sharing Economy in Europe: An Overview

The article describes the main legal challenges for regulating the sharing (or collaborative) economy in Europe and explains how the existing body of EU law applies to these new business models. In the last part, it makes a few brief comments on the need for future regulation.
Guido Smorto

Case Studies


Sharing Economies. For Each One. For All

This paper aims to increase awareness of the relationship between sharing economy initiatives and human diversity. The issue is characterized by particular physiological or pathological situations, or in consideration of different disabilities. Contemporary society is increasingly permeated by initiatives, in many areas, that facilitate people’s daily activities, and specific services are emerging from sharing economy’s area. The text will illustrate three different service design approaches: an exclusive, an integrative, and an inclusive ones. Case studies presented are mostly related to the mobility and hospitality, in Italy and Europe.
Maria Rosanna Fossati

Think Mobility Over: A Survey on Car2go Users in Milan

In a moment when city rethinks mobility and users redefine urban transport practices, car sharing takes on a strategic function. However, the ability to develop a shared mobility encounters different resistances—cultural, social and economic—that need to be considered for a truly effective service design. The chapter analyzes the case study of the car2go car-sharing service in Milan based on data collected from a representative sample of users (N = 3758). The analysis shows that the most frequent users are young (under 35), employed, male, with higher education, residents in the city and with limited mobility needs related to the family. They are attracted by the flexibility and convenience of the service, in terms of access to limited traffic areas or free parking. The affordability of the service sets car sharing as a potential replacement of car ownership. Moreover, the price is the factor that most affect the level of overall satisfaction of the users. This doesn’t mean costumers asking for a lower price, rather eliminating price-burdens and, at the same time, elaborate more transparent pricing policy. The inter-modality is the most important challenge for the service configuration, with the coverage of areas and times when the public service is most lacking and the provision of integrated subscriptions.
Davide Arcidiacono, Ivana Pais

The Role of European Institutions in Promoting Decent Work in the “Collaborative Economy”

This chapter aims at discussing the European approach to regulating the so-called “collaborative economy”, by looking at the main legislative initiatives regarding this set of fast-growing digital companies. Despite the potential efficiencies and benefits for customers, more recently, a counter-narrative has started revealing the “broken promise” of managing a contingent workforce mobilised on a “just in time” and “just in case” basis. The second section briefly describes the “collaborative economy” landscape and the dissemination of the heterogeneous category of “non-standard forms of employment” in the European scenario. The third section discusses the Uber case, the most visible symptom of a consolidated tendency towards fragmentation of the once solid relationship between the worker and the employing entity. In this respect, a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice on the nature of the service provided by the “transport platform” is analysed in depth. The fourth section investigates the European communications and resolutions which adapt the current legal framework and provide guidelines for regulating work in the collaborative economy, namely the Communication on the European agenda for the collaborative economy, the European Pillar of Social Rights, and other Parliamentary initiatives. The study is based on a theoretical and descriptive methodology. This chapter concludes by recommending a cautious regulatory approach. It has been highlighted that many online platforms are still in their business “infancy”, and experts genuinely do not know how they will develop. Consequently, legislative headlong rushes may end up crystallising the present state of the art, thus hindering “peripheral” entrepreneurial initiatives and blocking innovation. Surgical regulatory interventions shall help platform companies to adjust and improve their business model, in order to enter a new phase of “shared social responsibility”.
Antonio Aloisi

From Shared Public Spaces to Public Spaces for Sharing Activities. #Sharing.Lab Milan + London

As shown in the previous pages the phenomenon of sharing is one of the main ones that will affect the world the most in the coming years. The greater willingness to share was made possible thanks to a change in mentality in people who are more willing to make their private life and their thoughts visible on social networks, with the consequent creation of a collective consciousness and a increase of mutual trust through the act of sharing.
Giovanna Piccinno

Online/Offline Sharing Life

This chapter, in continuation to Chap. 3, investigates the new concept of contemporary living influenced by digital technology and its relation with the urban spaces of consumption, connection and activity, which define the relationships’ places within the public space. A selection of case studies of shared spaces such as the HomePlus Subway Store by Tesco in Seoul, Inamo Restaurant by BlackSheep in London and Digital Metro Library by Humanitas and Vodafone in Bucharest are analysed in order to highlight a design strategy focused on reactivating urban space through the overlap between physical and digital spaces. The action of space virtualisation and digitalisation generates sharing behaviours. Specifically, the references taken in consideration represent examples of best practices which define actual examples of the activation of sharing behaviours in shared spaces.
Alice Cristina Jola Zingales

Airbnb: A New Way of Housing Between Individual Experience and Collective Narration

The chapter is dedicated to Airbnb. As Joe Gebbia (co-founder of Airbnb) recently declared, Airbnb is more and more interested in investigating the new way of living and the current transformations of private spaces. Their presence at the last House of Vision exhibition in Japan shows that they can really change our idea of domestic space in the future. The paper then focuses on the changes affecting the housing paradigm, more and more called upon to face the challenge of a shared and collaborative use: today the concept of hospitality, going beyond the traditional offer, also involves the domestic sphere and rethinks it in terms of extroversion and accessibility as well as like an episode of a collective storytelling. In such a framework, Airbnb represents a successful compromise between the search for cosiness and sociality, between preserving one’s own identity and opening to the other, but especially a possible transformative engine for a collaborative economy that does not only mean exchange of services, while directly involving the users in the building of a new social contract between people.
Barbara Di Prete

Italianway: An Entrepreneurial Innovation for Hospitality in Contemporary Cities

This chapter is devoted to a specific case of sharing economy in Milan, broadening the vision to include the influence that infrastructuring processes have not only on the complex socio-technical system (scale-up) but also on a single case at local level (scale-down), supporting the authors in a reflection of the impact of the sharing economy on management innovation. We describe Italianway, a Milanese platform that links visitors with the local communities and services to offer an authentic experience of the city; in the creators’ words: “Live like a local, welcome to Milan”. This chapter illustrates the favourable factors of the wider contemporary scenario on local economic growth, enabling the introduction of innovative solutions into a traditional economic system through the hybridisation of the sharing economy approach with and within a given milieu.
Annalinda De Rosa, Martina Mazzarello
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