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Barbara Hartl and Eva Hofmann

‘Sharing economy’ has become a popular umbrella term for a variety of consumer activities referring to sharing goods and services. The sharing economy covers a range of transactions in almost all business areas, including accommodation (e.g., Airbnb), food (e.g., community gardens), and traffic (e.g., Uber, Bla-BlaCar). The definition of the sharing economy has been complicated by recent practices of ‘sharing’ activities, going by names like ‘collaborative consumption’, ‘access-based consumption’, or ‘collaborative economy’. At its core, the sharing economy provides consumers with access to goods, mostly without the higher costs and responsibilities usually accompanied by ownership. The popularity of the sharing economy created new research questions, offering manifold research opportunities. In this chapter, the authors focus on research from a consumer perspective, summarizing current research findings and pointing out existing research gaps. They thereby focus on several aspects that foster or hinder consumers’ involvement in the sharing economy, such as demographics of the consumers, like, e.g., age and digital literacy, and motivational aspects, such as, e.g., environmental friendliness and monetary considerations. They further look at the relationship between the consumer and other actors (providers and other consumers) of the sharing economy, such as, e.g., trust between them and discuss questions concerning the use of social science methods in future research and practical implications, which can be derived from the research on the sharing economy.

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Erich Kirchler, Barbara Hartl and Katharina Gangl