RSA Primer calls for ‘shared regulation’ as a new governance model for sharing economy platforms

* Report: Fair Share. Reclaiming power in the sharing economy. By Brhmie Balaram. RSA, 2016

Excerpted from the recommended RSA report, by Brhmie Balaram:

“While self-regulation is remedying some issues in the sharing economy, we theorise we would see better results from widening participation. The concept of self- regulation should be pushed further than government and businesses (ie sharing platforms) to include a more comprehensive range of stakeholders in shaping the sector. Users?—?both consumers and workers?—?should be central to this, but we could also involve community organisers, legal and administrative professionals (ie lawyers, insurers), investors, and designers.

All of these stakeholders have played a part in the evolution of the sector, but there has yet to be any articulation of a shared goal between them. ‘Shared regulation’ entails the redistribution of regulatory responsibility to parties other than government.

However, it differs from self-regulation because businesses are only one of many parties involved.

Moving beyond self-regulation to a wider process of collaborative regulation would be in acknowledgment that, comparable to growing concentrations of economic power, we also have concentrations of political power within our democratic system. We are essentially interested in how to encourage more than the usual suspects with power (see above visual for detail) to participate in providing solutions to emerging issues in the sharing economy. In this scenario, businesses continue to self-regulate as in aforementioned examples and government’s role should be seen as devolved rather than obsolete; however, other stakeholders are enabled (possibly by government initially) to consider (as well as act on) how they might contribute to making the sharing economy fairer for all.

Regulation is more likely to come down to rule-making and restraint when power is concentrated and citizens are passive because governments have limited capacity to effect change in other ways. If power is dispersed and citizens are actively involved in using their knowledge and capabilities, regulation can be a more creative process of problem-solving in the pursuit of realising social and economic policy objectives.

Shared regulation could enable the integration of decentralised platforms in mainstream markets.”

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