Work Packages

The project aims to develop an integrated concept of an urban sharing society, examining upscaling potentials in three fields of study (life styles, businesses and politics) and on three levels of analysis (business models, narratives and impact).

WP Lifestyles

Social impacts of sharing in an urban context

This Work package deals with sharing – understood as sharing, exchange and participation – on the individual and societal level. Based on the analysis of lifestyles and sharing activities (for example in civil society initiatives) the following questions should be analysed:

  • What social impact does sharing have? Which networks are created through sharing and to what extent does this have (positive) effects on the persons involved, groups and the development of the district / city?
  • Which strategies and ways of disseminating and scaling sharing practices can be observed? Which ones are particularly successful and can be recommended for the scaling of other practices?
    • How can sharing activities with positive impacts be designed to address as many user groups as possible from different fields of society and thus be integrated into diverse lifestyles?
    • To what extent does professionalisation of civil society initiatives contribute to scaling positive practices?

In the application to the city of Wuppertal, the experiences of persons involved in sharing activities are evaluated against the background of their everyday behaviors and lifestyles by using qualitative interviews and networks analysis. For this purpose, several cases will be selected, such as existing initiatives or activities or interventions planned by practitioners.

WP Business Strategies

Upscaling of sharing through business strategies and cooperation

This work package is dealing with the role of established businesses and their strategies in the upscaling of sharing in the city context.

  • Through which existing and new sharing practices do companies translate the sharing trend into their business?
  • How do strategies form internally as well as in cooperation with other actors?
  • Which strategies lead to a distribution or upscaling of sharing practices?
  • How can specific strategy building be targeted and incentivised?

The geographical focus is on the city of Wuppertal as a joint real-world laboratory and physical interface with the other work packages. Through close collaboration with a few selected practice partners and the initiation of various interventions, also together with other actors in the city, strategy building will be observed but also incentivised. Interventions in the form of workshops and other events will be conducted together with other work packages. Especially, there is a closer link to work package six with its complementary work on business models.

WP Governance

Political upscaling strategies and the intrinsic logic of the city

This work package investigates political processes in the context of specific examples of sharing. Particularly, it aims to identify strategies through which (support for) sharing can rise on the urban political agenda. It focusses on the rootedness of such strategies within a specific urban context, exemplified in the real-world laboratory of Wuppertal.

  • Which strategies are employed by actors to push their topics and issues onto the urban political agenda?
  • What is the role of narratives at the interface between sharing and the overarching processes of political agenda setting?
  • To what extent must actor constellations and narratives be understood as characteristic for a specific context – and what follows from that with regard to the transferability of strategies to other cities?

Following the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), the particularities of the urban context Wuppertal are conceptualized as a specific urban “Eigenart” (i.e. “character”). WP 4 operationalizes “Eigenart” as the interplay of specific actors within the discursive context of the city. In doing so, WP 4 on the one hand investigates agenda setting around overarching topics such as the development of an integrated urban development concept or the upcoming municipal elections. On the other hand, in cooperation with selected actors from Wuppertal, strategies are investigated and interfaces with these overarching developments are analyzed. In cooperation with WP 7, the analysis focusses on the role of narratives for the construction of problems and solutions within the agenda setting processes.

WP Environmental Assessment

Environmental Assessment of an Urban Sharing Society

This work package analyses the environmental potential of sharing practices. For this purpose, quantitative data on structural relationships in the consumption fields of nutrition, leisure, consumption, mobility, holidays and living are to be recorded in order to take into account potential shifts in the consumption structure (i.e. rebound effects). The WP aims to uncover some of the quantifiable effects of sharing and subsequently to determine its global environmental impact. Some of the related questions are:

  • Can the sharing economy and the associated sharing practices be considered as a building block to a transformation towards sustainability?
  • If so, what design elements do sharing practices need in the sphere of production and consumption to make an impact?
  • Which socio-demographic differentiation is necessary to map the trends in lifestyle development?

Examining the effects of sharing economy requires, among other things, a more detailed analysis of the behavior and decisions of the actors involved, particularly on the user side. In this study, such data and analysis results are combined with insights from other system view levels (micro, meso, and macro) in both the consumption and production spheres of economics. Thus, this WP attempts to highlight the analytical potentials of the micro-meso-macro-link approach to transformation research. In addition, methodological insights are to be gained which facilitate the analysis of the effects of such practices in other areas.

WP Business Models

Resilient sharing business models of an urban sharing society

The aim of this work package is to identify business models that act as an economic catalyst for upscaling, i.e. a diffusion of sharing practices and a sharing culture in an urban context. Since social developments are shaped by far more than economic and technological innovations and are always embedded in social and cultural change processes, companies are examined here with the help of the business model approach from both an economic-technical and a social-cultural perspective. Thus, the view of companies in the WP is transformation-oriented and aims at the role of companies as structural policy actors (Schneidewind 1998) of a future sharing society and the corresponding resilient business models. The WP asks how a sharing-based economy can be reflected in future business models in the context of changing lifestyles and policies, taking ecological boundaries into account.

  • Which business models are important for upscaling sustainable sharing practices?
  • How do companies translate new trends, such as sharing and digitization, into their business models and how do they use them to develop new scope for action?
  • How can the reference to the cultural and social embedding of companies help to identify and expand new scope for this?
  • To what extent can sharing as a bridge concept contribute to make transitions from classical to alternative economy feasible for companies?

Despite the high ecological and social potential of sharing, established companies in particular tend to use it to expand classic scope for action in terms of competitiveness. Therefore, guided by the above questions, this WP will explore whether sharing can also expand sustainable scope for action and thus increase the economic-ecological interfaces. Building on an analysis of the different sharing business models and their environments, business model workshops will be developed for this purpose. These serve the transdisciplinary integration of knowledge and should help to understand how companies find new approaches to business model development and new scope for action.

WP Narratives

Narratives of an Urban Sharing Society

The aim of work package 7 is to identify and develop narratives that serve as cultural catalysts for the diffusion of sharing practices and business models in urban contexts. A narrative approach is applied in order to understand the politics and processes of socio-cultural change related to developments in the field of the sharing economy. A key question is how the global sharing economy trend is perceived and shaped in concrete urban contexts, and whether and how sharing narratives influence urban governance and transitions.

  • In what ways do different groups of actors draw upon dominant (discursive) structures and how do they manage to proactively and creatively re-interpret and re-frame them? How does this create opportunities for change and an increasing scope of action?
  • What role do narratives play in the legitimization of political strategies supporting sharing activities, in the development of sharing business strategies and in the context of sustainable lifestyles?
  • How can broadly framed sharing narratives support the development of alternative forms of urban governance and cooperation between politics, business and civil society?

Different actors in cities around the world have developed different strategies for dealing with the opportunities and challenges of the emerging sharing economy. As a first step, an analysis of international “Sharing Cities” will be carried out to identify suitable strategies and measures for specific urban contexts and learn from best practice cases. In the context of the real-world lab Wuppertal, sharing narratives and governance strategies will be developed and tested together with local partners. A key question in this transdisciplinary research process is how (and which) narratives can contribute to cooperative ways of fostering urban transitions towards an Urban Sharing Society. Can shared narratives be developed connecting different groups of actors, building bridges between competing perspectives and opening up alternative possibilities for coordinated action? Narrative network analysis can help identify the opportunities of local government, civil society, organizations and businesses to impact urban governance and transition processes. Together with the local partners narrative workshops will be developed as a transdisciplinary method to identify the specific narratives of the city of Wuppertal and to develop shared narratives spelling out visions and strategies fostering the upscaling of an Urban Sharing Society.