Collaborative cities for collaborative entrepreneurs

Promoting regional economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability in the collaborative economy

Collaborative economy can be defined in a broad manner as a mode of consumption and production of goods where actors share under-utilised or easy to share goods and service. This broad approach includes various sub-sets (such as sharing economy, collaborative consumption or disintermediation through digital platforms amongst others), which often have very different societal impacts and raise very different challenges for public policy.

This project focuses on actors that take an active role in the collaborative economy, which we label as “providers” and “users”. Together they form the “participants”. The provider is the one offering a specific good or service, which will then be consumed or used by the user. Both provider and user usually find each other on “platforms” which are created by “coordinators”, often empowered by digital network tools. These coordinators organise the sharing through a broad variety of mechanisms, ranging from for‐profit to social objectives. According to these objectives, business models (combination of market, public and voluntary resources), type of governance and type of labour compensation (at the level of the coordinator and the provider) will vary.

The key hypothesis of the project is that the choices made in terms of organisational and business models have a crucial influence on the way in which the initiatives can promote socially inclusive and sustainable economic growth. To test the productivity of this hypothesis in the Region of Brussels‐Capital, this project will conduct a comparative and systematic assessment of advantages and disadvantages of organisational and business models in three specific sectors: mobility, housing and food.

To this purpose, the project will pursue the following six objectives: (1) building a typology of the main organisational and business modes; (2) performing a comparative assessment to investigate if there is competition/ complementarity between the emerging collaborative economy (organised as a for‐profit, social or public economy) and the existing economic initiatives that do not rely on the organisational forms of the collaborative economy; (3) evaluating the effects of the collaborative economy on sustainable regional development; including the effects on employment, job quality, entrepreneurship, social inclusion and environmental sustainability; (4) proposing improvements to the legal and taxation framework for each of the organisational and business models that are analysed, including the development of tools for using existing and new tax and fiscal incentives; (5) developing guidance for further monitoring of the impact of the collaborative economy on economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability, in particular through developing an open or shared data policy on the collaborative use/provision of resources in the areas of mobility, housing and food distribution and consumption; (6) organising a co‐construction process to fine‐tune the key research questions with the main actors/stakeholders and translating the research results to the main potential user groups of the research.
The expected outcomes are (1) an improved understanding of the contrasted impacts of the collaborative economy in function of the various choices made in terms of organisational and business models and (2) the analysis of tools that have been proposed for public policy based on the assessment of these contrasted impacts.