A Network Theory Approach to the Sharing Economy
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.