Sharing economy has emerged as a disruptive phenomenon impacting different sectors as transport, energy and accommodation. In her studies, Schor (2014) reveals that the sharing economy ‘covers a sprawling range of digital platforms and offline activities, from financially successful companies like Airbnb (a peer-to-peer lodging service), to smaller initiatives such as repair collectives and tool libraries’ (p.1). For these activities, cities represent the most suitable laboratory to spread, due to their role in enhancing technological, economic and social innovation. At the same time, the phenomenon attracted the interest of many scholars around the world who questioned the significance of the sharing economy. From one side, it has been hailed as source of innovation while, from the other, it has been extensively criticized for its business evolution and uncompetitive behavior, raising doubts regarding its negative or positive effects. Also issues related to the platform’ data have created tensions with local authorities that have been called to preserve the public interest against these tech giants. From one side, all these negative elements had directly affected the legitimization of organizations like Airbnb. From the other, this tension has requested a revaluation of the governance frameworks in order to deal with a disruptive sector. Therefore, organizations like Airbnb have been trying to reach sector legitimization by also participating and influencing the local governance dynamics. Starting from these elements, the research wants to present an analysis of the sector legitimization and governance, investigating how these two processes interrelate in time. The study shows, in a retrospective and longitudinal way, what have been the events, the actors and the strategies that have affected the sector legitimacy and its interrelationship with certain governance frameworks. Through the use to a comparative qualitative case study, the research shows that these two processes do present interrelationship capacity. The interrelationship outcomes are negative when, to the strategies applied by one of the parties, correspond an uncollaborative/uncooperative strategy of the other party; and viceversa, the interrelationship results positive when collaboration and reciprocal adaptability is generated. From the research, it also emerges that the legitimization and governance interrelationship is influenced by the context where it takes place, specifically by the local actors and events. Ultimately, this investigation wants to arrive to generate recommendations for both sharing economy’ organizations and public authorities to keep open to reciprocal collaboration in the long term, in order to face together the challenges arisen by this new disruptive sector and enhancing together the public interest.

, , , , ,
J. Edelenbos (Jurian)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS)

Canelles, G. (2021, March 25). Sharing Economy: A New Urban Challenge: Analyzing the governance and legitimization dynamics of a disruptive sector. Retrieved from