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Title: Unravelling sharing economy : experiences from Hong Kong
Authors: Lai, Ka Wai Michael
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2019
Abstract: The emergence of hyper-consumption in contemporary society has caused serious environmental degradation and the adverse impacts are increasingly acknowledged by many to explore ways to reduce consumption and waste through sharing instead of ownership. The rapid development and popularity of sharing economy hence has been considered by many as an optimistic 'innovative disruption' of the conventional consumption-driven capitalistic economy that can save the environment. However, others have also criticized that such optimism is both misleading and focusing too narrowly on building a feel-good myth about sharing economy ignoring many of the shortcomings and difficulties in its operation exploitation. Furthermore, it has been noted that most current studies have been pre-occupied by a business orientation, seeing sharing economy merely as a novel business practice that could transform the current big business model, with little intention in exploring if it is a viable alternative in transforming current consumption values and behaviours which in turn could lead to a reduction of waste and an improvement in environment. This thesis thus aims to fill this knowledge gap through the adoption of case study, by unravelling the experiences of two selected sharing economy projects as cases, Kai Fong Lai Mang Ride Sharing Community and Waste-No-Mall, at work in Hong Kong guided by the framework and theory of transformation proposed by Erik Olin Wright, especially focusing on how their vision, values, leadership and management strategies and style have effected change on participants and social transformation in local communities, specifically in terms of consumption values and pattern as well as waste reduction. A total number of 20 interviewees (10 in each case) were interviewed through in-depth interviews, including founders, active participants and other participants to ensure the diversity. The study has shown that both projects are able to make good progress in fostering sharing culture and practices among participants adopting very different strategies and management styles which include ride-sharing, sharing of benefits from organized group-purchase events, free-cycling and down-cycling events as well as workshops for school children. However, in terms of their impacts on changing individual consumption values and behaviour and community environment, the outcomes have been somewhat limited because of limitation of operation strategies, and resources. Still, findings of this study have validated Wright's theory of transformation especially in terms of its emphasis on reality emancipation, reaffirming that in seeking to reach Real Utopia, there is no single but only diverse pathways that balance idealism and pragmatism, horizontal and vertical connections, as well as the importance of returning to a social-environmental and not only a business orientation. The case studies too have also highlighted the necessity of taking into consideration of the local contexts of sharing economy - the smallness, no-sponsor/no funder, and limited use digital technology in Hong Kong's project is a good reminder that more questions must be raised when applying findings from Western cases in unravelling the complexities of sharing economy projects elsewhere in effecting change and transformation.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Sharing -- Economic aspects -- China -- Hong Kong
Economics -- Sociological aspects
Pages: x, 232 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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