Modelling fractional ownership in the sharing economy diffusion of shared goods in consumer coalitions

Pasimeni, Francesco (2021) Modelling fractional ownership in the sharing economy diffusion of shared goods in consumer coalitions. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on fractional ownership in the context of the sharing economy. It studies the conditions under which, subject to group coordination, fractional ownership and collaborative consumption generate higher consumer utility than individual ownership and consumption, leading also to higher societal benefits and more sustainable consumption.

An extensive literature studies the models and benefits of fractional ownership. On the other hand, the literature on the sharing economy has focussed mostly on the shared consumption of goods that are often ultimately owned individually, overlooking shared purchase and ownership. To trace the origins of the sharing economy in relation to the fractional ownership, and to investigate theoretical (dis)connections among the two, in the first paper I study the evolution of both literatures using bibliometric tools. I find that the literature on sharing economy builds upon the theory of psychological ownership (that is the temporary sense of ownership) but it deviates from the theory of commons and the logic of group cooperation, that are at the roots of fractional ownership. These findings indicate that the sharing economy seems to evolve along the lines of a neo-capitalistic model.

To study under which conditions fractional ownership is viable in the context of the sharing economy I develop agent-based models.

First, I model the co-evolution between coalition formation and diffusion of indivisible goods that can be afforded only by groups of consumers (e.g. decentralised energy infrastructures). While coalition formation is a necessary condition for diffusion of such goods, adoption hinders coalition formation by changing the consumer network. Larger coalitions, where free-riding is minimised, are preferred over small ones because of lower costs. However, costs increase when higher quantities are purchased and owned collectively. Higher network connectivity and rapid communication increase diffusion and reduce downside effects of adoption in group, such as consumer isolation.

Second, I analyse under which conditions shared goods may replace individual consumption of goods (e.g. cars), when consumers can also purchase a public service (e.g. public transport) to satisfy their demand. Fractional ownership can reduce the negative externalities of producing goods that remain idle, while offering the same benefits of individual ownership. By exploring the full parameter space of the model, I find that fractional ownership does not diffuse beyond a consumer niche with relatively low budget, high demand and high preference for sharing. Price and infrastructure policies have a positive impact on increasing fractional ownership, reducing the inefficient use of resources.

The sharing economy literature has not yet studied options for fractional ownership to emerge. Results from this thesis show that group coordination and cooperation can prompt such ownership models, generating individual and societal benefits. Fractional ownership in the context of the sharing economy can boost the diffusion of sustainable goods and reduce the inefficient use of resources. These results are useful to inform policymakers that address consumer participation into the transition process towards a more sustainable society.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic theory. Demography > HB0801 Consumption. Demand
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2021 14:51
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2021 14:51
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/100154

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