Intermediary Institutions and the Sharing Economy

15 Pages Posted: 26 May 2016 Last revised: 7 Jun 2016

See all articles by John Infranca

John Infranca

Suffolk University Law School

Date Written: May 26, 2016

Abstract

In Regulating Sharing: The Sharing Economy as an Alternative Capitalist System, Professor Rashmi Dyal-Chand challenges the assumption – implicit in the fast-growing legal literature on the “sharing economy” – that companies in this sector operate in the manner of traditional firms. Framing the sharing economy as a “nascent form of a coordinated market economy”, Dyal-Chand calls for regulation rooted in a deeper understanding of the institutions – both the technological platforms most commonly associated with the sharing economy (Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, and their ilk) and a burgeoning collection of more organic and democratic organizations — that shape this economy.

This short invited Response focuses on the potential of this second category of institutions to achieve a more equitable distribution of the economic benefits of the sharing economy. While I agree that much can be gained from a more critical reflection on the nature of the institutions that shape the sharing economy, I harbor skepticism regarding the current vitality and future potential of these alternative institutions. I first explore how intermediary institutions might strengthen the position of workers in the sharing economy. I then express a few hesitations regarding the prospects of intermediary institutions to adequately counterbalance the technological platforms that dominate the sharing economy. Finally, I offer suggestions for how, by drawing on discussions of the role of institutions in other areas of legal doctrine; an “institutional turn” in thinking about the sharing economy might inform both legal scholarship and regulation.

Keywords: sharing economy, coordinated market economy, intermediary institutions, gig economy, Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit

JEL Classification: K11, K31, H70, J38

Suggested Citation

Infranca, John, Intermediary Institutions and the Sharing Economy (May 26, 2016). 90 Tul. L. Rev. Online 29 (2016); Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 16-8. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2784766

John Infranca (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

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