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19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

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Motivations of consumers for using sustainable services

The sharing economy and other types of collaborative consumption and production have rapidly entered the mainstream over the last few years in many developed and developing countries. Early attempts in the transportation and tourism sector are now copied in almost any other sector of the economy and provide companies with exceptional growth opportunities. However, we have very limited understanding regarding the environmental and social impacts of these organisations and the networks created by their internet based platforms. Apart from a lack of data, methodological issues also hinder a more accurate assessment of their overall impact and many research results are limited to the creation of a simple inventory of these. An important step to uncover the overall impact of sharing economy businesses is to understand the motivation factors behind the use of such services – but research so far is ambiguous regarding these. Böcker and Meelen (2017) identify the most important motivation factors of using the services of the collaborative economy by sector. They conclude that economic factors are at play in the case of accommodation sharing, social aspects are more important in food consumption, while environmental factors play a role when choosing car sharing services. Rogers (2010) concludes that it is economic factors that are most important in the case of apartment sharing, while factors motivating other types of sharing are rather diverse. Hamari et al. (2015) found that ‘enjoyment’ is the most important factor to use peer to peer services, while environmental issues play a much less important role. As a result of our lack of understanding of the issue, Frenken comes to the conclusion that “there is a clear need for a better understanding of the environmental impact of the sharing economy, its rebound effects, and how its impacts compare to the impacts of related business models (second-hand, product-service, and on-demand economy)” (Frenken, 2017).

On-going research at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics looks at a regional drive share company and the network it created over a period of ten years in order to better understand the patterns behind sharing economy businesses. Using the database of the company, our research has already produced interesting results relating to the growth dynamics of the network, the number, sex, age and other features of the users, the most important destinations and the behaviour of the users of the platform. Additionally, we are conducting a questionnaire survey to better understand the way the drive share platform changes the transportation habits of its users (e.g. the amount of travel over a certain period, the choice of means of transportation, etc.) and the motivation factors behind using/not using the services of the peer to peer company.

Our results show that while saving resources (namely money and time) is important to passengers, social consideration also play an important role in choosing the platform (e.g. the possibility to interact with other people while traveling, etc.). Our research contributes to a better understanding of the factors determining the choice to use peer to peer sharing economy businesses and takes our understanding a step further in the direction of understanding the overall environmental and social impact of the sector.

Keywords: sustainable consumption, consumer motivation, consumer behaviour, behaviour change References: Botsman R., Rogers, R. (2010) „What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption” HarperBusiness; ISBN: 978-0061963544

Böcker, L., Meelen, T. (2017) "Sharing for people, planet or profit? Analysing motivations for intended sharing economy participation" Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions Volume 23 pp. 28–39. DOI:10.1016/j.eist.2016.09.004

Frenken K. (2017) “Political economies and environmental futures for the sharing economy” Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society A. 375 (2095) Available from:

Hamari J., Sjöklint M., Ukkonen, A. (2015) "The sharing economy: Why people participate in collaborative consumption" Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, Volume 67 No. 9, pp. 2047-2059. DOI: 10.1002/asi.23552

Petra Soltész
Budapest University of Technology and Economics

Gyula Zilahy
Budapest University of Technology and Economics


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