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Nordic labour markets and the sharing economy

Report from a pilot project

image of Nordic labour markets and the sharing economy

This report presents a preliminary knowledge status about implications of the sharing economy for labour markets and employment relations in the Nordic countries. It also reviews how the Nordic countries and their social partners approach the sharing economy and issues relating, amongst other, to its legality, regulation, taxation, and terms of competition. There is so far scant supply of statistics, data and research in this field. The employment potentials and consequences of the sharing economy will, amongst other, depend on the governments’ and the organized actors’ responses to these challenges. Currently, all the actors seem to be in a phase of knowledge gathering and deliberation of possible policy options, cautiously avoiding taking steps that might obstruct the development of the sharing economy.

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Background and context: What is the sharing economy and how can it be governed?

There is, so far, little consensus on how to denominate and define the term sharing economy (Sundararajan 2016: 27 and Kalleberg & Dunn 2016: 2). Other umbrella terms, such as collaborative consumption (Botsman 2013), collaborative economy (EU Commission, 2016), intermediary economy (Jesnes & Nesheim 2015a) the gig economy, platform economy, crowd-based capitalism (Sundararajan 2016) and on-demand economy (Stefano 2016), are also used to conceptualize it. Various actors, especially the trade unions, have been critical to the term sharing economy because of its unequivocally positive connotations, the great diversity of companies referred to as sharing economy platforms, and many also argue that it is not about sharing at all. Several Nordic trade unions such as the Swedish Unionen and the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions have chosen to use the concept “platform economy” (Unionen/Söderqvist 2016, LO 2016a). Referring to the digital tools applied in the transactions, the platform economy concept invites a more balanced or even critical assessment of it, according to these unions (Rolandsson et al. 2016; Rasmussen & Kongshøj Madsen 2016). In lack of a better term, the Norwegian LO has chosen to use the term “samhandlingsøkonomien” – corresponding to the term “collaborative economy”, which the EU also uses (LO 2016b, EU Commission 2016).

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