governing Uber Lyft San Francisco

Image from IIIEE at Lund University YouTube

This week in the video series, The roles of city governments in the sharing economy, we turn your attention to one more mechanism through which municipalities govern sharing economy organisations: ‘enabling.’

Municipalities may govern sharing economy organisations by enabling or disabling them. As opposed to the mechanism of ‘providing,’ ‘enabling’ relies on intangible means like persuasion, argumentation and incentives. This mechanism includes at least two roles: the ‘city as a matchmaker’ and the ‘city as a communicator.’

The ‘city as a matchmaker’ role is evident when municipalities facilitate collaboration of sharing economy organisations with other stakeholders like similar organisations, users, knowledge institutes or investors. In the ‘city as a communicator’ role, municipalities may disseminate the best urban sharing practices and market them to different stakeholders. For example, together with Collaborative Economy Gothenburg, the City of Gothenburg has created the ‘Smart Map,’ which is a map of over 100 sharing and collaborative economy initiatives. This is a great search engine for anyone who wants to experience sharing in the city. In the ‘city as a communicator’ role, municipalities might organise competitions or offer voluntary certification schemes to recognise the best sharing practices, as examples. 

At the same time, municipalities may ignore or disable sharing economy organisations. Although ignoring may have an enabling effect as well. For example, the City of San Francisco ignores ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft by not imposing any restrictions on them, thereby enabling their operations. 

The enabling mechanism may, however, becomes controversial if municipalities start supporting sharing economy organisations selectively. This is particularly problematic in relation to commercial sharing economy organisations as city governments then risk intruding into the market. 

To learn more about specific examples on how the cities of Amsterdam, Berlin, Gothenburg, London, Malmö and San Francisco govern the sharing economy through enabling watch “The Roles of City Governments in the Sharing Economy – Enabling” here:

In our past episode in the video series, we discussed how municipalities provide tangible resources such as money, infrastructure or human resources for sharing economy organisations or withhold those. We talked about four principal municipal roles of providing: the city as an owner, the city as a host, the city as an investor and the city as a data provider. Earlier in the series, we also discussed the regulating mechanism, which is the most common way to govern the sharing economy in cities, and the self-governing mechanism with its three principal roles: the city as a consumer, the city as a sharer and the city as a data user.

Stay tuned for the final film in the series, which will discuss the governance mechanism of ‘collaborating’ or how municipalities govern the sharing economy by negotiating or establishing partnerships with sharing economy organisations.

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These films are based on the research done in two research projects: Sharing and the City (funded by Swedish Research Council Formas) and Urban Sharing research programme, which has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 771872). The films are a part of the Sharing Cities Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) developed at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), Lund University, Sweden, and funded through the Sharing Cities Sweden project.

Yuliya Voytenko Palgan

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yuliya Voytenko Palgan

Dr Yuliya Voytenko Palgan is a researcher and an Associate Professor in Sustainable Development at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), Lund University, Sweden. She has over

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