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Uber and the Ethics of Sharing: Exploring the Societal Promises and Responsibilities of the Sharing Economy

Published 29 May 2017
Reference 6209
Region Global
Length 20 page(s)
Prizes & Awards

2020 The Case Centre Best-selling Case in Ethics and Social Responsibility

2019 The Case Centre Best-selling Case in Ethics and Social Responsibility

Winner of the 2019 Case Centre Awards, Ethics and Social Responsibility Category

2018 The Case Centre Best-selling Case in Ethics and Social Responsibility

Second Prize in the Corporate Sustainability track of oikos Case Writing Competition 2017


This case explores the changes wrought by the “sharing economy”, examining the innovations and controversies surrounding the online ride-hailing service Uber. It provides a unique overview of the challenges posed by new business models like Uber’s, which use the internet to link individual providers of goods and services to customers. Raising significant economic, social and environmental sustainability issues, it asks: what are the responsibilities of “sharing economy” companies? More specifically, are they merely “technological platforms” facilitating transactions for private individuals or do they have the same responsibilities as real-world companies such as transportation businesses, hotels and employment agencies?

Teaching objectives

1. To explore the societal changes brought about by the “sharing economy” model and examine the role of corporate social responsibility and sustainability in developing that new economy. 2. To examine the difficulty of defining the “sharing economy” and explore how various possible definitions influence such companies’ responsibilities and how they are regulated. 3. To facilitate discussion of issues such as labour relations and regulatory oversight of companies created by emerging technologies. 4. To explore the potential for greater sustainability through the adoption of “sharing economy” business models. 5. To encourage discussion of positive and negative strategies that technology companies can use to engage with regulators when introducing new platforms and business models.

  • Sharing economy
  • Sustainability
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Digital economy
  • Digital disruption
  • New business models
  • Labour rights
  • Consumer safety
  • Business regulation
  • Taxi companies
  • Q31617
  • Corporate Governance
  • Investors, Stakeholders and Accountability
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