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Mobile Lab on Sharing in Malmö

Author:
  • Yuliya Voytenko Palgan
  • Kes Mccormick
  • Charlotte Leire
  • Jagdeep Singh
Publishing year: 2019-08
Language: English
Pages:
Document type: Report
Publisher: The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics

Abstract english

Cities are seen as one of the leading forces in making our societies sustainable and resource efficient. The latest trends of sharing homes, cars, bikes, 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. The 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. To build up an evidence base, and support sustainable sharing, a systematic and comparative analysis of the role of cities in sharing is needed.

This report presents the outcomes of a one-day mobile lab on urban sharing in Malmö, which was arranged on 7 March 2018 within the framework of the Sharing and the City project, with support from the Sharing Cities Sweden programme and the Urban Reconomy project. A mobile lab is a collaborative process of conducting in-situ 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 city government employs its agency to promote or inhibit certain SEOs. To do so, it undertakes one or several of the following roles: regulator, provider, enabler and self-governor. The second set of institutionalisation processes of sharing in cities is bottom-up, resulting from institutional work by SEOs. These two sets of institutionalisation processes provided input to research themes and related interview questions explored during the mobile lab in Malmö.

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, the City of Malmö and an NGO (Bike Kitchen). During the mobile lab in Malmö, the team visited and interviewed an organisation for swapping clothes (Swop Shop), a tool library (Garaget), and the Streets and Parks Department at the City of Malmö, and held a meeting with an expert on the sharing and collaborative economy from a think tank (Drivhuset) based at Malmö University. After the mobile lab, all its participants documented and shared their reflections of the day, which formed the basis for this report.

The mobile lab in Malmö was innovative in terms of methodology, as it included a heterogeneous 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 Malmö in terms of content:
1. The City of Malmö sees sharing practices as a way to achieve sustainability goals or tackle its urban sustainability challenges, such as environmental pollution, congestion, lack of space, social integration, equity and justice, and unemployment.
2. The sharing practices with which the mobile lab group engaged are targeted at altering normative institutions of ownership and consumption patterns.
3. National taxation systems and regulations appear to play a significant role in creating barriers to the sharing economy in cities in general, and in Malmö in particular. Our current accounting systems in society need to be changed to accommodate the new forms of consumption activities.
4. The potential for positive economic and social impacts from the sharing services seems evident, but the positive environmental benefits are difficult to assess.
5. Collaborations between city governments and business-oriented sharing organisations are problematic, as these may contradict free market competition rules. One way to address this challenge is through the development of experimental projects where various actors, including city governments, sharing organisations, academia and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), collaborate on testing new sharing solutions.

Keywords

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • sharing economy
  • collaborative economy
  • sharing cities
  • Urban governance
  • mobile lab

Other

Published
  • ISBN: 978-91-87357-45-9
Kes McCormick
E-mail: kes [dot] mccormick [at] iiiee [dot] lu [dot] se


The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE)

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