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Sustainable business and economics news: 'Sharing economies'

Sustainable business and economics are topics covered here at as these two complementary categories are emerging as vital for global communities. For a fact, many articles published here contain original analysis and contribution as well as references and attribution to respected sources. Here are some examples of respected sources that now cover the subject routinely as we are among the pioneers in addressing these subjects in the context of sustainability:

Environmentally friendly
James George
  • The Economist
  • The New York Times
  • American Enterprise Institute
  • The Guardian

They offer a mix of liberal and conservative viewpoints to balance the analysis.

Below is an article that ran yesterday in The Guardian as that news organization has established a special niche, “Global Sustainable Business.” The article discusses the concept of a “sharing economy” that seeks to preserve “humanness” while permitting scaling and scoping for growth. That is, big can be beautiful when it operates under rules or a model that preserves invention, innovation, and social and environmental values.

Americans are becoming aware that they are engaged in a great class war that pits economic power from an elite wealthy and corporate class whose actions have undermined the intent of the Constitution to preserve and defend equality and economic parity. The unviability of capitalism as we have known it has become exposed with certain trouble symptoms:

  • Skewed concentration of wealth into the hands of too few
  • Equality undermined by rules that permit political power to be bought
  • Energy paradigm that is stuck on non sustainable fossil fuels
  • Disproportionate balance among defense, social, and environmental responsibilities
  • Excessive debt and revenue deficit

If a primary role of government is to optimize return on national resources by creating an optimal environment for free enterprise performance, then the nation must address the economic model that will produce essential outcomes that ensure a good life for all citizens. Accomplishing that requires collaboration and partnership between government enterprise and private enterprise where only private enterprise can produce essential revenues that sustain the overall economy.

The Guardian article addresses a new economic and business paradigm.

“Sharing economies are here to stay

Far from a temporary blip driven by recession, sharing economies are offering a sustainable alternative to mainstream economics

Today is the final day of OuiShare Fest 2014, a three-day conference in Paris bringing together over 1,000 collaborative economy entrepreneurs to examine every aspect of the sharing economy, from the Open Source Beehives Project to challenges for corporations in the collaborative economy.

For anyone under the impression that the rise of the sharing economy is simply a blip reaction to the recession, the OuiShare conference is proving otherwise. Consider this: on its first birthday in 2009, Airbnb, which lets people rent out part or all of their homes, was a tiny start-up many had never heard of. Today it's seen 11 million guests staying in 34,000 cities, not to mention 600 castles. Far from diminishing in influence as the global economy has shown signs of recovery, the likes of Airbnb have strengthened. Temporary blip this is not.

Although the increasing strength of the sharing economy is anecdotally evident, quantitative indicators of success beyond diffuse data from individual case studies are much harder to measure. Particularly since activity often moves offline once the sharing arrangement is established says Andrew Smith, Professor of Consumer Behaviour at Nottingham University. Like the informal economy, working out precise ways of measuring the sharing economy's size and impacts may take years – if possible at all – and will no doubt be the subject of much future debate.
Despite the lack of broad data, Rachel Botsman, author of What's Mine is Yours, and founder of Collaborative Lab, is in no doubt about the progress made since her renowned 2010 TED talk, The case for collaborative consumption. In Botsman's words, we have reached the "fight stage", where everything from regulatory legal battles to competition between start-ups are markers of the movement's successful evolution. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of deeper change to consumer behaviours and business systems:

"Scale is critical to change and 'big' does not have to be the foe, but we have to be careful not to dilute the humanness and empowerment that lies at the core of collaborative consumption."

So how do you scale up while maintaining "humanness"? What barriers prevent people from shifting to their peers, from the default of going to the shops? And what behaviour change mechanisms can encourage sharing?’

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