uwf UmweltWirtschaftsForum

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 303–314 | Cite as

The sustainability paradox of the sharing economy

  • Hans VerbovenEmail author
  • Lise VanherckEmail author


The positive effects of new ‘sustainable’ business models, e. g. the sharing economy business model, are well-documented and widely acclaimed. However, these sustainable models also have unintended negative side-effects that are less visible and often ignored. In this article we describe these unintended side-effects as the sustainability paradox. We will discuss the negative externalities of sharing economy business models by comparing them to the characteristics of a sustainable economy model. Furthermore, we will propose a brief and simple checklist or framework for quick identification of sustainable business models. This framework can facilitate the top-down implementation of legislative measures and the bottom-up prevention of negative externalities of sharing economy initiatives.


Sharing economy Product-to-service economy Externalities Rebound effect Sustainable business models Prevention of externalities Sustainability paradox 


Die positiven Effekte sogenannter nachhaltigen Geschäftsmodelle, z. B. Sharing Economy, sind in der Literatur gut dokumentiert. Jene Geschäftsmodelle weisen jedoch auch unbeabsichtigte, negative Externalitäten auf, die weniger sichtbar sind und oft ignoriert werden. In diesem Aufsatz werden wir die Folgen solcher negativen Nebenwirkungen als Nachhaltigkeitsparadox definieren.

Wir werden die negativen Externalitäten der Sharing Economy beschreiben, in dem wir sie mit den wichtigsten Eigenschaften eines nachhaltigen Wirtschaftsmodells vergleichen. Desweitern werden wir einen Rahmen oder Checkliste zur schnellen Identifizierung von Nachhaltigkeitsmerkmalen in neuen Geschäftsmodellen vorschlagen. Dieser Rahmen kann einerseits dazu beitragen legislative Initiative von oben nach unten umzusetzen aber andererseits erlaubt er es auch, die Geschäftsmodelle so zu gestalten, dass Externalitäten weitgehend vermieden werden können.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Applied Economic SciencesUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpenBelgium

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