CM 049: Arun Sundararajan on the Sharing Economy

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Blog Post - Arun SundararajanWe all share, but today, millions get paid for it. Is this new trend just a fad or is it radical rethink for how we work?

When we catch a ride with an Uber driver or contract with someone on Upwork, we marvel at the convenience. What we often overlook is the amount of trust it takes to ride with a stranger or to work with someone we may never meet. Yet that level of trust is what is driving the sharing economy, a form of commerce that harkens back to the 11th-century Maghribi traders.

In his book, The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-based Capitalism, NYU Stern Professor Arun Sundararajan provides the context and the history for how we got here. He also paints a picture for where we are headed, particularly when it comes to labor and safety policies and regulations. A recognized authority on the sharing economy, he has written for the New York Times, Wired, the Financial Times, and Harvard Business Review.

In this interview, we talk about:

  • What makes the sharing economy similar to 18th-century commerce
  • How we are making the shift away from corporate buying to peer purchasing
  • How the sharing economy is blurring the lines between personal and professional
  • How the pendulum is swinging back to relationships, connections, and gifts
  • How the sharing economy speaks to our yearning for making and connection
  • What the 11th-century Maghribi traders can teach us about trust and commerce
  • Ways the sharing economy encourages us to do a better job
  • Whether the sharing economy can reduce inequality
  • How the sharing economy requires different labor regulations and policies
  • How the government can partner with platforms to rethink regulations
  • How labor regulations were designed for an era of full-time workers
  • Why our economy will increasingly rely on stakeholders other than government
  • How blockchain tech promises a world where crowd is market maker
  • Why trust is embedded in this economic shift
  • How new forms of trust will enable new forms of commerce
  • What is it about digital cues that help us trust one another?

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned

Arun Sundararajan


The Gift by Lewis Hyde

Robert Nesbitt

Sherry Turkle

Karl Marx

Emile Durkheim

Maghribi Traders

Capital by Thomas Piketty

The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly

New York University Stern School of Business






Blockchain technology

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