Roadmap of human-machine networks in the sharing economy

The sharing economy, a.k.a. collaborative economy, is expected to see substantial growth in Europe the coming years; a much cited PwC study estimates that the value of sharing economy transactions in 2015, at 28 billion Euro, will increase to a potential value of 570 billion Euro in 2025.

Nevertheless, important challenges remain on the road from the sharing economy as an emerging current phenomenon to sharing being established as a mainstream mode of consumption in the European population. As shown in a TNS survey, only about one fifth of Europeans had used sharing economy services in 2016, and nearly half were unaware of such services

To realise the potential of the sharing economy we need to strengthen our knowledge of the challenges and opportunities ahead, and identify ways to address these. Sharing economy services are good examples of human-machine networks, as a key characteristic of these is their networked character in which the collaboration of human actors is enabled by intelligent digital platforms.

Hence, we have applied the HUMANE typology for human-machine networks to discuss how sharing economy services may develop in the near future, and how to guide this development. Specifically, we have applied the four analytical layers of the HUMANE typology: actors, relations, network extent, and network structure to guide an interview study of 19 sharing economy service owners, researchers, and policy-maker representatives.

The outcome of the study is summarised in the short white paper Roadmap for human-machine networks in the sharing economy.