Regulating the Sharing Economy: Applying the Process for Creative Destruction

Salman Dostmohammad and Jude Long, Dalhousie University
The rising popularity of sharing platforms such as Uber, AirBnB, Taskrabbit and others is democratizing access to services as part of a larger sharing economy phenomenon. The sharing economy is a hub of peer‑to‑peer activity for obtaining, giving, or sharing access, and is coordinated through a web interface featuring community feedback. Uber, AirBnB and other such firms are drawing the attention of regulators as the sharing economy operates within a gray zone that is not contained within the existing regulatory framework. As new technology is accelerating the emergence of new forms of economic activity, regulators must adopt quicker measures in order to remain relevant. This paper first examines the reasons that cause governments to regulate, the problems currently affecting the regulatory framework, and the trade-offs regulators must consider in formulating the appropriate regulatory response. This paper then calls for possible solutions by proposing a regulatory framework that is flexible and responsive enough to allow these companies to operate into the future. Responsiveness can be enhanced by creating an inter-jurisdictional task force that will develop government's foresight and anticipatory abilities, and applying the process of creative destruction toward regulations that can solve the problem of outdated regulations.

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