Sharing versus collaborative economy: how to align ICT developments and the SDGs in tourism?

January 2019
Taylor & Francis Online
Journal of Sustainable Tourism

Great hopes have been placed in the sharing economy to provide a new business model based on peer-to-peer (P2P) exchanges of underutilized assets. As a model, the sharing economy has been expected to make significant contributions to sustainability, providing new opportunities for entrepreneurship, more sustainable use of resources, and consumer co-operation in tight economic networks. However, in recent years, digital platforms have turned into the most important actors in the global sharing economy, turning global corporations, such as AirBnB, Booking, or TripAdvisor into intermediaries controlling and profiting from most transactions. Focused on accommodation, this paper conceptualizes the sharing economy in comparison to the wider collaborative economy, and discusses its social, economic, environmental, and political impacts in comparison to the sustainable development goals. It concludes that the sharing economy has great potential to make very significant contributions to sustainability, though the model is increasingly being replaced by the collaborative economy, which performs as an extension and acceleration of neoliberal economic practices.