Industry Research: The Sharing Economy

When it comes to Uber or Airbnb, how do you categorize those services into a distinct industry? As Rashmi Dyal-Chand asks in the Tulane Law Review, “Is Airbnb a hotel chain, a rental agency, or a website provider? Is Uber a taxicab service employing hundreds of drivers or a developer of an app?”

My guess is that the best way to get a 360 degree view of the industry would be to do a little research in all those areas (hotels, rentals, website providers), to get a good feel for where things are and where they are heading. SWOTs or industry reports for the hotel industry might mention Airbnb and their stake in the industry, for example, as might articles about peer-to-peer websites.

A quick search in OCtopus for “sharing economy” brings up a wealth of articles in both scholarly and popular sources.

Use different keywords– try specific company names (like Airbnb or Uber, to name only those that I am familiar with!), as well as terms like “sharing economy,” “peer-to-peer networks,” and “collaborative networks” (these are a few terms that show up in article searches- different writers may use different terms for the same concept).

A lot of interest in the scholarly realm seems to be related to regulation within the industries. Trade journals and popular sources often focus on how to compete or keep up to date with this new type of business. Where you are gathering information will have some impact on the type of information you will find.

Here are some examples of articles, both scholarly and popular, on the topic:

Chafkin, M. (2016). AIRBNB OPENS UP THE WORLD. Fast Company, (202), 76-95

Bradley, R. (2015). Lyft’s Search for a New Mode of Transport. MIT Technology Review, 118(6), 48-53

Malhotra, A., & Van Alstyne, M. (2014). The Dark Side of the Sharing Economy … and How to Lighten It. Communications Of The ACM, 57(11), 24-27

Marchi, A., & Parekh, E. (2016). HOW THE SHARING ECONOMY CAN MAKE ITS CASE. Mckinsey Quarterly,03/31/2016(1), 112-116

Sundararajan, A. (2016). What Governments Can Learn From Airbnb And the Sharing Economy. Fortune.Com, 1

And a couple books, for a more detailed look:

Stephany, A. (2015). The Business of Sharing : Making It in the New Sharing Economy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Johal, S., & Zon, N. (2015). Policy making for the sharing economy : beyond whack-a-mole. Toronto : Mowat Centre

OC Library users have access to the database Passport, which might provide some stats and analysis on the sharing economy or specific companies within that realm. However, Euromonitor (the company behind Passport) has a blog where they post valuable information for free (as do many other market research companies, to point out their paid resources), such as in this post: The New Consumerism: The Reach of the Sharing Economy

Other freely available reports online include this one by PricewaterhouseCoopers: The Sharing Economy

From these reports and posts, we can glean info such as what types of services and goods are best suited to the sharing economy, the names of up-and-coming companies in the industry (who has heard of Spinlister, Rover, or Roost?), and the percentage of the US population that has provided services through one of the sharing economy platforms (1.4%!)

There’s so much to learn…



Resource Spotlight: The Conference Board of Canada

Do you know that the library subscribes to the Conference Board of Canada’s e-library? That means we have access to a huge number of research reports and economic studies on subjects like risk management, taxation, socio-economic performance, governance, human resources management, organizational excellence, and Canadian and provincial economic trends. You’ll often find CBoC reports being referred to in the media… their e-library is where you can find the full report!


A sampling of recent reports and studies include:

  • Employee Engagement: Leveraging the Science to Inspire Great Performance / The Conference Board of Canada, 142 pages, July 13, 2016 Report by Todd Armstrong, Ruth Wright
  • The Conference Board Human Capital in Review™: Voices from Asia / The Conference Board, Inc., 15 pages, July 13, 2016
  • 25 Truths about Corporate Communications / The Conference Board, Inc., 18 pages, July 7, 2016
  • Addressing Employee Absences: A Look at Absence Management in Canadian Organizations / The Conference Board of Canada, 38 pages, June 28, 2016
    Briefing by Nicole Stewart
  • The Seven Pillars of Sustainability Leadership / The Conference Board, Inc., 82 pages, June 16, 2016
  • Improving Access to Canadian Health Care: The Role of Tax Policies / The Conference Board of Canada, 78 pages, May 26, 2016 Report by Greg Sutherland, Thy Dinh, Alexandru Dobrescu
  • Strengthening Symbiosis: International Business and Innovation / The Conference Board of Canada, 61 pages, May 12, 2016 Report by Michael Grant
  • DNA of Engagement: How Organizations Build and Sustain Highly Engaging Leaders / The Conference Board, Inc., 111 pages, March 21, 2016

Access the full e-library here: Conference Board of Canada e-Library


Search, or browse by topic: Economic Trends, Organizational Performance, Public Policy

Welcome tips for the new school year!

Welcome, and welcome back!

Here we go again… September. Start of term. Some things to get you off on the right foot…

The Library launched a new website. We think it is much easier to navigate, and it works well on all sorts of different devices. We hope you feel the same!

Library services

Come visit the library to print, scan, borrow laptops, book study rooms, use our computers, or just say hi!

Starting your research?

OCtopus is the search box that you see on the main page. It searches many places at once, for books, articles, and media, and is a great place to start your research.

The Research & Subject Guides tab has many librarian-created guides to help you find authoritative sources for your research, as well as tips on how to evaluate sources and avoid plagiarism!

Our citation guides can help you figure out the complexities of citing your sources in different formats: APA, MLA, Chicago and more…

Some books about about how to be a successful student:

Get sorted! : how to make the most of your student experience / Jeff Gill and Will MeddGetSorted

Becoming a master student / Dave Ellis, Doug Toft, contributing editor, Debra Dawson

Make it stick : the science of successful learning / Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel

Study skills connected : using technology to support your studies / Stella Cottrell and Neil Morris



Summer Reading

Our friends over at UBC Library’s Small Business Accelerator are tweeting summer reading recommendations, using the hashtag #sbalibrary.

We’ve been inspired! Here are some of those business books that are available in the OC Library:

Thinking fast and slow / Daniel Kahneman thinkingfast

How to fly a horse : the secret history of creation, invention, and discovery / Kevin Ashton flyhorse

Unfinished business : women, men, work, family / Anne-Marie Slaughter

The misfit economy : lessons in creativity from pirates, hackers, gangsters, and other informal entrepreneurs / Alexa Clay, Kyra Maya Phillips

Losing the signal : the untold story behind the extraordinary rise and spectacular fall of Blackberry / Jacquie McNish, Sean Silcoff

More books at the library that were recommended in summer reading lists from Forbes and The Atlantic:

David and Goliath : underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants / Malcolm Gladwell

 icarusThe Icarus deception : how high will you fly? / Seth Godin

The advantage : why organizational health trumps everything else in business / Patrick Lencioni

Dark money : the hidden history of the billionaires behind the rise of the radical right / Jane Mayer

And for even more summer reading lists, see the recent post by OC Library News.

Now go grab a book, pack a beach bag and get out there and read! [*or, grab a book and find a nook in your local coffee shop, if thunderstorms are threatening your beach reading]






Some Quick Business Cheat Sheets

The Library has just published some quick, one page cheat sheets to provide a starting place for some of the common research needs within Business.

These will help to identify what a particular type of resource is, where to find it and how it can be used for research.

They can be found on the main Guides by Course & Subject page for Business.

You can also take a look at them here:

Annual Reports

Case Studies

Company Profiles

Industry Codes (NAICS)

Industry Profiles

SWOT Analysis

International Business Culture

Globalization is a reality for most businesses. Whether it is accessing customers in a new market, developing an expansion plan to grow a business, or collaborating with other businesses, there are lots of things to consider when doing business with people from different cultures.

Understanding and incorporating knowledge of different cultural practices into your interactions with other people is a key element for success in international business. Thinking about different communication styles, how to dress, and body language are just as important as understanding customer needs and marketing strategies in another culture.

There are lots of freely available resources to help you get a feel for business practices in different cultures, here are a couple of quick examples:

Centre for Intercultural Learning: Country Insights

A great resource that provides both the Canadian perspective, and one from a person born in another country, for social and cultural norms that may be faced in that country’s business environment.


Etiquette, customs and protocol guides on a number of different countries.

The library also has some great resources that can support your research into international cultural practices, communication and management:

RidingtheWaves Cultural Advantage

Cultural Differences in a Globalizing World Essential Concept of Cross Cultural Management

Please take a look at the Library guide for Multicultural Management for more resources.


New Infographic Guide

The Library has recently put out a new guide on infographics. You can use this guide to find out information on different tools to create infographics, design basics, types of infographics and evaluation strategies.

Infographics seem to be the medium of the moment these days. Businesses everywhere are turning to infographics to provide quick, visually stimulating information on brands, services, products and more. So why should businesses use infographics?

1. Visual appeal

Infographics grab attention. When designed well they can help cut through the information overload that people are faced with on a daily basis and ideally help target existing and new markets.

2. Shareable

Infographics are designed to be shared on a variety of platforms. Having content that is both visual and easily shareable gets your product, service or business attention.

3. Brand awareness

Infographics typically include, along with the primary message, logos, social media contacts and websites. This can greatly increase traffic and awareness.

To see some examples of infographics check out:

Here are a couple resources that the library has on infographics:

Infographics: The power of visual storytelling

The Power of Infographics