Sharing for People, Planet or Profit?

Analysing motivations for intended sharing economy participation

Authors: Lars Böcker and Toon Meelen
University of Oslo, Norway and Utrecht University, Netherlands
Date published: June 2017 in Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions

Why did we select this research?

This research provides insights into the motivations for people to participate in the sharing economy which is instrumental in developing a better understanding of the decision-making processes of users.

Key findings

The study shows that motivations differ based on sector, while differences between socio-demographic groups are less evident. The study also finds that users who were accessing the goods and services tended to be more motivated by money than those actually providing the goods. The research examined user motivations across five sectors; car, ride, accommodation, tool and meal sharing.

  • Individuals access goods sharing and services for its economic gain rather than being aware of sustainability issues.
  • Older people may be more likely to participate for social reason instead of economic reasons despite levels of income. Individuals seem more likely to share lower cost items (tools and meals).
  • When sharing valuable assets (like accommodation) motivations tend to be mostly economic, although social motivations are more important for ride sharing.
  • The distinctions that are made between what is considered real sharing and economic sharing masks overlaps and is actually in some ways difficult to distinguish.


Böcker, L., & Meelen, A. A. H. (2016). Sharing for people, planet or profit? Analysing motivations for intended sharing economy participation. Innovation Studies Utrecht (ISU) Working Paper Series, 16(02), 1-22. Retrieved from: