Working paper (2021)
Paul Belleflamme, Muxin Li, Anaïs Périlleux, Alain Strowel
We contribute to the discussion on the resilience of sharing economy platforms (SEPs) in pandemic times. We distinguish SEPs according to how the pandemic affects their respective supply and demand sides (both sides contract, sides get unbalanced, or both sides expand). Within each category, we discuss how SEPs (both for-profit and prosocial) bear up against the threats and/or exploit the opportunities raised by the pandemic; we also compare SEPs to “pipelines” (integrated firms). Analyzing specific examples through the lens of management science, economics and legal studies, we formulate three conjectures: (1) although SEPs may benefit from lower operating costs in the short run, network effects might accelerate their decline in the long run; (2) yet, network effects also make SEPs better-equipped than pipelines to seize new opportunities emerging in pandemic times; (3) prosocial SEPs are more flexible than profit-oriented SEPs in responding to social needs during difficult times.