A Network Theory Approach to the Sharing Economy

  • Petra Soltész Department of Environmental Economics, Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, H-1521 Budapest, P. O. B. 91, Hungary
  • Gyula Zilahy Department of Environmental Economics, Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, H-1521 Budapest, P. O. B. 91, Hungary

Abstract

With the rapid growth of businesses in the sharing economy, evidence is accumulating regarding their underlying business models, growth patterns and other characteristics.
This article demonstrates that a network theory approach can be useful for analysing the internal structure and other features of sharing economy platforms and the networks created by them. After introducing the most important concepts and theoretical considerations relating to the sharing economy, we analyse the data of a regional ride share company based in Hungary. Our analysis reveals an increasingly popular service, which is in a phase of rapid growth in terms of both the number of origin/destination settlements and the number of trips/passengers. Taking settlements as nodes and trips between them as edges we demonstrate that the network formed by them shows the characteristics of scale-free networks.
Our findings may help company managers and policy makers to fine tune their decisions and indicate potential areas for further research directions to better understand the societal effects of the sharing economy.

Keywords: sharing economy, peer to peer ride sharing, network theory, scale-free networks
Published online
2019-12-07
How to Cite
Soltész, P. and Zilahy, G. (2020) “A Network Theory Approach to the Sharing Economy”, Periodica Polytechnica Social and Management Sciences, 28(1), pp. 70-80. https://doi.org/10.3311/PPso.12597.
Section
Articles