Operations Management in the Sharing Economy : Essays on the Integrated Perspective of Item-sharing and Crowdshipping

The sharing economy subsumes various concepts in which members of a sharing community render services to each other. Two of these concepts are item-sharing and crowdshipping. In item-sharing, members grant others a temporary access to the items they own, such as tools or leisure equipment. In crowdshipping, private drivers offer to execute delivery jobs for other people on trips they would make anyway. These two concepts are so far dealt with in practice on separate platforms that operate in complete isolation. However, they could complement each other well when the available transportation capacity in crowdshipping is utilized to support the cumbersome peer-to-peer item exchanges in item-sharing. The goal of this thesis is to investigate possible benefits of integrating item-sharing and crowdshipping on a single platform. To this end, we address the operations management of such a platform and we derive managerial insights from numerical experiments. The thesis is a cumulative dissertation that is mainly composed of four individual essays. The first essay analyses the potential of a concept integration for a basic scenario. The benefit of having crowdshippers execute more than one delivery per trip is investigated in the second essay. In the third essay, we propose an innovative concept in which the shared items are forwarded from one consumer directly to the next. The work concludes with a sustainability comparison between alternative ways of serving requests. The results show strong evidence that the two concepts are mutually beneficial and that a well-designed operations management allows to effectively serve total demand with the available items. Furthermore, it is demonstrated in the fourth essay that a shared use of items can lower the environmental impact of consumption substantially.


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