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Mobile Lab on Sharing in Gothenburg

Författare Yuliya Voytenko Palgan
Kes McCormick
Charlotte Leire
Tove Lund
Emma Öhrwall
Anders Sandoff
Jon Williamsson
Förlag International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), Lund University
Förlagsort Lund
Publiceringsår 2020
Publicerad vid Företagsekonomiska institutionen
Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Industriell och Finansiell ekonomi & logistik
Språk en
Länkar https://portal.research.lu.se/porta...
Ämnesord sharing economy city delningsekonomi Göteborg
Ämneskategorier Annan samhällsvetenskap, Ekonomi och näringsliv


Cities are seen as one of the leading forces in making our societies sustainable and resource efficient. The latest trends of sharing homes, cars, bicycles, tools and other goods are fast entering our urban lives. The sharing economy is a consumption-production mode in a city, in which value is generated through transactions between peers or organisations that offer access to their idling or underutilised rivalrous physical assets. These assets are made available to individuals in processes often mediated by online platforms (Mont, Voytenko Palgan, and Zvolska, 2019). Examples of sharing economy organisations (SEOs) include bicycle and car sharing initiatives, tool and clothes libraries, and short-term accommodation rentals between peers. Activities of SEOs are often cited as solutions to urban sustainability challenges, but their contribution to sustainability, resource efficiency and the circular economy has not been systematically evaluated. The role of municipalities in advancing more sustainable forms of sharing is not yet fully understood. A systematic and comparative analysis of the role of municipalities in sharing is therefore needed, to build an evidence base and to support sustainable sharing. This report presents the outcomes of a one-day mobile lab on urban sharing in Gothenburg, which was arranged on 16 October 2018 within the framework of the Sharing and the City project, with support from the Sharing Cities Sweden programme. A mobile lab is a collaborative process of conducting insitu analysis by a research team that allows analysis of the study object, the sharing economy, in its context. Sharing in cities becomes institutionalised through two principal sets of dynamic processes. The first is a top-down institutionalisation dynamic when a municipal government employs its agency to promote or inhibit certain SEOs. It does so by employing one or several of the following governance mechanisms: regulating, providing, enabling, self-governing and collaborating (Voytenko Palgan et al., forthcoming). The second set of institutionalisation processes of sharing in cities is bottom-up, resulting from institutional work by SEOs. SEOs engage in the institutional work by creating or disrupting regulatory, normative and cultural-cognitive institutions by employing 11 mechanisms as discussed in the work by Zvolska et al. (2019). These two sets of institutionalisation processes provided input to research themes and related interview questions explored during the mobile lab in Gothenburg. The mobile lab included planning meetings, development of research themes and questions to investigate, preparation of interview guides, one day of empirical data collection, written post-lab reflections of 500-1000 words and photos by each team member, processing the collected material, post-lab meetings to discuss reflections, and writing a mobile lab report. The mobile lab team comprised seven persons representing academia (5) and the City of Gothenburg (2). During the mobile lab in Gothenburg, the team visited the Consumer and Citizen Service Mobile Lab on Sharing in Gothenburg | 4 Administration at the City of Gothenburg and the City Hall, and went on a guided tour in the newly developed area, Södra Älvstranden. The team interviewed a founder of a bicycle repair workshop, the Bike Kitchen (Cykelköket), a civil servant and a leader of the Circular Gothenburg (Cirkulära Göteborg) project, a deputy-mayor of Gothenburg, and a founder of the platform for sharing of urban land for gardening (Grow Gothenburg). After the mobile lab, all participants documented and shared their reflections of the day, which formed the basis for this report. The mobile lab in Gothenburg followed a similar innovative methodological approach to that used in earlier mobile labs, as it brought together a multi- and transdisciplinary group of participants consisting of academic and non-academic actors, which turned out to be beneficial for the data collection and reflection process. Several conclusions can be drawn from the mobile lab in Gothenburg: 1. Sharing in Gothenburg is generally perceived as positive, with a potential to address urban sustainability challenges. Sharing and collaborative economy initiatives are well anchored, both locally and in relation to the international understanding of the movement. 2. The City of Gothenburg provides a welcoming ground for non-profit or community-based sharing initiatives to emerge and develop, and supports them by providing funding and premises, by spreading information about their activities, and by attracting and connecting the users of sharing services. 3. Motivations both for SEOs and for civil servants and politicians to engage with the sharing economy in Gothenburg are primarily of a social nature. The main social benefits include strengthening social cohesion, offering opportunities for people to meet, building trust between strangers, and developing new knowledge and skills in the community. Resource efficiency, self-sufficiency and access to assets for all population groups are experienced as positive co-benefits. 4. All interviewees showed openness and willingness to collaborate, albeit on different grounds and for different reasons. The interviewed representatives of the sharing initiatives and the municipality seem to trust each other, which is something that has been built up over several years. 5. Evaluating the impacts of sharing services in Gothenburg, although important, may not be the key priority for advancing more sustainable forms of sharing. Instead, a focus on forging new collaborations with effective organisational models based on robust arguments to underline the benefits of sharing services may be crucial. Shifting mind-sets of people away from the norms prevalent in consumerist societies (e.g. ownership, throwaway culture) is perhaps the most tangible environmental contribution that the sharing services offer.

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