Arun Sundararajan: “The Sharing Economy And The Future Of Digital Governance”

Updated on

Sharing isn’t new. But today, we are beginning a transition to crowd-based capitalism: a new way of organizing economic activity, a successor to the corporate-centered model of managerial capitalism that dominated the 20th century. In my book, “The Sharing Economy,” I explain the technological and social factors that have caused sharing to take center stage in the economy, and describe the effects on growth, regulation, what it means to have a job, the social contract, the basis for interpersonal trust, and how connected we feel to each other.

In my talk at Google, I will provide an overview of some of the topics above, after which I will discuss how crowd-based capitalism and the growing sophistication of digital trust systems are challenging the world’s existing models of regulation and governance. As digital technologies make deeper inroads into the “physical” world, these challenges become more pronounced. Autonomous vehicles, blockchain technologies, and emerging platform models for labor, energy and healthcare accelerate this convergence, exacerbating the misfit between old regulatory boxes and new ways of providing familiar things.

I argue that the solution involves a radical shift from the historical role that government has played in regulating commercial and social activity, along with the formalizing and expansion of the de facto delegation of responsibility to digital platforms that has been under way for over a decade. I discuss three emerging approaches that appear especially promising for the future, and argue against “open data” as a universal panacea. I draw from numerous examples that include YouTube, Airbnb, Lyft, Uber, Handy, Getaround, France’s BlaBlaCar and La Ruche Qui Dit Oui, China’s Didi Chuxing, and India’s Ola.

Arun Sundararajan: “The Sharing Economy And The Future Of Digital Governance”

YouTube video

The Sharing Economy – Description


The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism by Arun Sundararajan

Sharing isn’t new. Giving someone a ride, having a guest in your spare room, running errands for someone, participating in a supper club — these are not revolutionary concepts. What is new, in the “sharing economy,” is that you are not helping a friend for free; you are providing these services to a stranger for money. In this book, Arun Sundararajan, an expert on the sharing economy, explains the transition to what he describes as “crowd-based capitalism” — a new way of organizing economic activity that may supplant the traditional corporate-centered model. As peer-to-peer commercial exchange blurs the lines between the personal and the professional, how will the economy, government regulation, what it means to have a job, and our social fabric be affected?

Drawing on extensive research and numerous real-world examples — including Airbnb, Lyft, Uber, Etsy, TaskRabbit, France’s BlaBlaCar, China’s Didi Kuaidi, and India’s Ola, Sundararajan explains the basics of crowd-based capitalism. He describes the intriguing mix of “gift” and “market” in its transactions, demystifies emerging blockchain technologies, and clarifies the dizzying array of emerging on-demand platforms. He considers how this new paradigm changes economic growth and the future of work. Will we live in a world of empowered entrepreneurs who enjoy professional flexibility and independence? Or will we become disenfranchised digital laborers scurrying between platforms in search of the next wedge of piecework? Sundararajan highlights the important policy choices and suggests possible new directions for self-regulatory organizations, labor law, and funding our social safety net.

The Sharing Economy – Review

Information technology is disrupting a host of industries including transportation, hotels, banks, and marketplaces. The very nature of work is changing. Sundararajan offers an insightful guide to the forces shaping our economy today — and tomorrow. (Hal Varian, Chief Economist, Google)

Fortunes have already been made in the sharing economy, yet the biggest impact on business and our daily lives is yet to come. There’s no better guide to this transformation than Arun Sundararajan’s book. (Erik Brynjolfsson, co-author of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies)

Sundararajan has taken all the loose talk about the sharing economy and given it a rigorous and readable treatment. He makes it clear that there is no one model for these new economic forms, but that taken together, they represent a profound shift in how we think about everything from utility to capital to labor to employment. (Clay Shirky, author of Cognitive Surplus and Here Comes Everybody)

So all in all, a very interesting book by one the most knowledgeable researchers on the sharing economy. Well worth a read. (The Enlightened Economist)

Sundararajan knows his stuff. He’s an award winning scholar who writes with a clarity that masks the compleity of his subject. (Finance and Development)

In his new book, Arun Sundararajan paints a rosy picture of the revolutionary companies and platforms that are altering the nature of work. (Strategy + Business)

Sundararajan…sees enough value in the sharing economy. (TED)

His case for optimism in his new book is compelling in large part because it comes from a business-school wonk and not a “sharing!” proselytizer devoted to the literal meaning of the word. (The Washington Post)

The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism by Arun Sundararajan


Signup to ValueWalk!

Get the latest posts on what's happening in the hedge fund and investing world sent straight to your inbox! 
This is information you won't get anywhere else!