The Sharing Economy - A Vehicle for Innovation or a Source for More Regulation? A comparative case study on the European Commission versus France and the Netherlands
This thesis focuses on the policy-challenges in the sharing economy in relation to innovation and regulatory principles in the European Union. It is a qualitative thesis that takes the form of a comparative case study, comparing the European Commission on a supranational level with France and the Netherlands on national level, as two Member States of the EU. The aim of the thesis is to identify how the EU and its Member States understand and frame the sharing economy from an innovation perspective. It also aims to clarify how governmental bodies in the EU deal with tensions in policy-making in the area of the sharing economy. This is done by drawing on the theoretical framework of institutional logics and sensemaking. The main empirical material consists of official governmental documents of the respective actors and is supported by qualitative interviews. The results found that the European Commission is acting as a forum for discussion rather than a supranational regulator. France understands their own approach towards the sharing economy as more careful, while the Netherlands prefer little government interference. This thesis looks at what constitutes these different approaches, what sensemaking procedure it is subject to, and what logic they make out of it. It can be concluded that regulation in the sharing economy is interpreted very differently across the EU, based on different institutional logics and sensemaking processes.