How can Germany profit from the diverse sharing economy?

In a new i-share policy brief, Johanna Mair and co-authors outline recommendations for public governance. 

In a policy brief on public governance strategies for the sharing economy in Germany, researchers in the i-share project at the Hertie School in Berlin recommend a variety of approaches to governing sharing economy organisations, which aim to derive greatest benefit for society and the economy. Under the direction of Hertie School Professor of Organization, Strategy and Leadership Johanna Mair, the researchers found that the broad diversity of business models in the new sector requires an equally broad spectrum of approaches, rather than a “one-size-fits-all” policy.

In the policy brief “How Germany can profit from the diversity of the sharing economy” (in German), the researchers detail differences in sharing models, in particular those that have emerged in urban versus rural areas.  “For this reason, measures at the local level (e.g. cities or municipalities) and regional level (counties or agglomerations) are recommended,” the policy brief states. “Specifically, regional and local implementation of public governance strategies and the creation of regional and local experimental spaces are recommended.”

The authors outline several public governance approaches to the sharing economy. They call for strategies that take the special characteristics of local and regional areas into account; they recommend creating experimental spaces for sharing economy opportunities whose potential effects contribute to local and regional policy goals; and they emphasise the need to evaluate the implemented strategies and the inputs and outputs of such experimental spaces.

According to the brief, societal debates have focussed on whether the sharing economy as a whole is good or bad for the economy, society or the environment, but this focus misses the point. The authors write that this debate ignores the multifarious nature of the sharing economy. For example, there are both for-profit and non-profit organisations in Germany’s sharing economy. While for-profit car-sharing companies in urban areas, for example, have grabbed the media spotlight, many people are unfamiliar with the variety of regional, non-profit car-sharing ventures or car-sharing offered by public works, they say. This is also the case for a number of other new businesses or grassroots initiatives that make use of opportunities afforded largely by the emergence of new digital technologies.

The project i-share: The sharing economy’s impact in Germany, is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and aims to investigate these and other questions related to the sharing economy. The Hertie School is part of a research collective that includes the Institute for SME Research and Entrepreneurship (ifm) at the University of Mannheim, the Chair for Organisation and Business Development at the University of Göttingen, the Chair of Business Administration, Public and Nonprofit Management at the University of Mannheim, as well as the Chair of Information Systems and Management at the University of Augsburg.

Read the policy brief here.

More about Johanna Mair

  • Johanna Mair, Professor of Organization, Strategy and Leadership