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Rethinking the Sharing Economy

Our paper focuses on a non-standard sharing example that harbors the potential to disrupt received wisdom on the sharing economy. While originally entering the field to analyze how the 2015 refugee crisis was handled in Vienna, we found that the civil society start-up Train of Hope played an outstanding role in mastering the crisis. We argue that our unusual case is in fact an excellent opportunity to discover important aspects about both the nature and organization of sharing. First, we uncover an additional dimension of sharing beyond the material sharing of resources (i.e., the economic dimension): the sharing of a distinct concern (i.e., the moral dimension of sharing). Second, we hold that a particular form of organizing facilitates the sharing economy: the sharing economy organization. This particular organizational form is distinctive – at the same time selectively borrowing and skillfully combining features from platform organizations and social movements. Our paper contributes to this Special Issue of the Academy of Management Discoveries by highlighting and explaining the two-fold economic and moral nature of sharing and the organization of sharing between movement and platform.

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