The RSA’ s primer on the sharing economy guides readers through the recent evolution of the sector, focusing in particular on the meteoric rise of some online platforms and what this means for us all. The report clarifies existing and emergent business models and present a new frame for making sense of the trend towards sharing platforms.
As a starting point RSA introduces the concept of ‘˜shared value creation’ ; this refers to the shift from value being created by products and services to value being created by users of a plat ¬form’ s online network. RSA notes that business models which depend on shared value creation to survive tend to scale their user base as quickly as possible.
A small number of sharing platforms have been able to scale their networks to an extent where they are beginning to show signs of monopoly power in influencing the price, output, and investment of an industry, as well as in limiting the entry of new competitors. RSA calls these platforms ‘˜networked monopolies’ to distinguish them from what we traditionally know as monopolies. This new term reflects a process of crowdsourcing monopoly power from users ‘“ both consumers and workers. Sharing platforms strive for their networks to be ever-expanding, so that they can dominate the market; however, to maintain their position these platforms must empower the very users they depend on to fight in their corner against tighter regulations.
The RSA thus presents ‘˜shared regulation’ as an option for shaping the sharing economy. Shared regulation is similar to self-regulation in the sense that it is the redistribution of regulatory responsibilities to parties other than government, but it goes beyond the inclusion of businesses as key actors in the regulatory framework. Rather than relying on governments and platform providers to resolve what they see as problems in the sharing economy, shared regulation encourages greater partici-pation from platform users (consumers and workers), community organisers, legal and administrative professionals, investors and designers in tackling issues.