Sectoral evolution and shifting service delivery models in the sharing economy

S. Mahmuda*, T. Sigler, E. Knight, J. Corcoran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The rise of the sharing economy has had transformative impacts on extant service delivery models, with wide ranging implications for existing firms, regulators, and the workforce at large. This paper draws upon firm-level data to better understand how new forms of service delivery have accompanied the diffusion of the sharing economy. Unlike previous waves of technological innovation, sharing economy firms have emerged as digital intermediaries rather than direct service providers driven by shifting consumer practices and attitudes. We apply an innovation diffusion model to trace the development trajectory of the sharing economy across 1000 firms. Our model segments the evolution of the sharing economy into three distinct and overlapping phases, comprising an Embryonic Stage (1995–2008), an Early Growth Stage (2007–2015), and most recently a Late Growth Stage (2014–present). Analysis of the 1000 firms reveals that the sharing economy has rapidly gained momentum across all industry sectors, with its growth trajectory principally tied to the evolution of related financial and technological innovations paralleled by social adoption. We find that service delivery models differ considerably between sectors, with professional services favouring business-oriented models, and consumables oriented more towards peer sharing. Though peer-to-peer (P2P) has been the dominant model, this is changing as larger firms enter the market and existing firms become industry leaders. We argue that while the marginal cost of new transactions within a P2P structure is low, barriers to market entry become ever-higher as sharing economy service delivery models are increasingly embedded within the mainstream economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-684
Number of pages22
JournalBusiness Research
Issue number2
Early online date28 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright The Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Collaborative consumption
  • Fourth industrial revolution
  • Platform capitalism
  • Service economies
  • Sharing economy


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