One of the first things opposition of the shared economy will point out is that members are not actually sharing anything. There have been debates based solely on the name of this economic model. The only thing I can equate this to is how the rest of the world must feel about American Football. Misleading title and not technically true (at least for the majority of playtime). Supporters of the sharing economy can't argue too hard because most of the larger platforms aren't exactly sharing or collaborating. Airbnb hosts receive payment for the usage of their homes, and TaskRabbit's receive payment for their services. To share would mean that there was no payment required for goods or services, and therefore, opposition is correct. However, this has no affect on how supporters feel about the shared economy in the same way that Americans will continue to defy the world with the word soccer.
Andrew Geant, CEO and Co-Founder of WyzAnt, a tutor search website, recently wrote an article for Entrepreneur regarding the naming of the shared economy. Geant's article, The Sharing Economy is Misnamed But Deserves Celebration Anyway, takes a look at what we could be calling the sharing economy instead.
"Certainly there are common threads among these businesses and reasons why several of them have grown exponentially to multibillion dollar valuations. But sharing and collaboration are not part of the secret sauce. What makes these businesses special and successful are the concepts of participation and utilization."
"'Participation' and 'utilization'' are better terms for this new sector of the economy because these adjectives describe concepts that sharing and collaboration have never fully captured."
In the article Geant goes onto to explain where and when "Participation" and "Utilization" fit:
"Participation: noun; the action of taking part in something.Businesses like Uber, Airbnb and Etsy increase accessibility to goods and services that were historically limited by regulation, price, awareness and other factors. This is true for both supply and demand (riders and drivers, hosts and travelers, and buyers and sellers). These businesses cause participation to increase among all parties."
"Utilization: noun; putting to use; turning to profitable account.Utilization is another way of saying that these businesses take advantage of excess supply and latent demand. This is where the term “sharing” is often substituted incorrectly ( When I rent a spare bedroom on Airbnb, it is a business transaction, not sharing. I'm motivated by profit to utilize a resource I control)."
Geant reviews a handful of sharing platforms and where they would fall into his new categories. Check out the rest of his article for more information.
What do you think? Does the sharing economy need a technically correct title? And if so what do you think of Participation and Utilization?