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Preventing Conflicts in Sharing Communities as a Means of Promoting Sustainability

The sharing economy is a new promising trend with many positive outcomes on society and
the environment, as it provides potential for sustainable solutions due to the reduction of resource
consumption and less waste. However, research and practice show that sharing comes with its
own share of problems. People often act selfishly, and in worst-case scenarios try to take advantage
of others without contributing to the shared good. To achieve the higher goal of sustainability,
it is important that conflicts in the sharing economy are prevented, and a setting is achieved that
allows people to easily behave in a cooperative and sustainable way. The present research examines
which conflicts emerge in sharing communities (study 1) and community gardens in particular
(study 2), and whether regulation can prevent conflicts in large groups. Two exploratory studies were
conducted. First, a qualitative study with consumers and non-consumers of the sharing economy
revealed that regulatory systems are perceived as important for preventing the exploitation of other
community members, but also that cooperation should not be enforced with strict controls and
punishment. Rather, problems should be discussed in a democratic group setting, rules and goals
should be set up together, and trust should be built. Second, a questionnaire study with community
gardeners in Austria confirmed these results, and showed that trust is related to less conflict in
community gardens, while harsh forms of regulation are related to a potential for greater conflict.
Additionally, the results indicate that soft forms of regulation are related to fewer relationship and task
conflicts, better conflict resolutions, a high sense of community, and greater trust in the community.
We then discuss how these findings can be used to regulate sharing economy activities and give
limitations and directions for future studies.
Date January 2018
CreatorsSabitzer, Thomas, Hartl, Barbara, Marth, Sarah, Hofmann, Eva, Penz, Elfriede
PublisherMDPI AG
Source SetsWirtschaftsuniversität Wien
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeArticle, PeerReviewed
RightsCreative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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