The Leading Independent
Resource for Top-tier MBA
Home » Blog » News » MBA News » Dare to Share: MBAs and the Sharing Economy

Dare to Share: MBAs and the Sharing Economy

Image for Dare to Share: MBAs and the Sharing Economy

This post has been republished in its entirety from its original source,

From ride-sharing services like Uber to fashion websites like Rent the Runway, it should come as no surprise that these so-called “sharing economy” companies are changing the face of business. Of course, when business changes, so does business education. In today’s changing world, understanding the sharing economy and how to best use it could be key for new MBAs as they navigate the workplace.

What is the sharing economy?
It is no coincidence that the growth of the sharing economy—platforms that allow people to “collaboratively consume” by sharing goods and services—is occurring as the number of millennials in the workforce increases. Just as the economic recession of the 2000s resulted in a millennial push toward social entrepreneurship careers, those who grew up and attended school during this recession similarly adapted to a more socially conscious form of consumption.

The recent boom in the sharing economy is an understandable result of the millennial focus on minimizing waste and lowering costs. Although the rise in the sharing economy is recent—with services now allowing consumers to share anything from houses to musical instruments—the instinct for humans to share has existed since primitive times.

Today, being a part of the sharing economy can serve a number of important purposes for a millennial: it can make services more affordable, such as the cost of an Airbnb as opposed to a hotel; it can present an opportunity to earn extra income, such as selling goods through Etsy; and it can reduce waste by facilitating secondhand purchases.

How will the sharing economy affect today’s MBAs?
Even though the idea of the sharing economy seemed preposterous 15 years ago, it is clear that the idea has caught on and will continue to grow. And interest is growing not only among consumers but among up-and-coming professionals as well. In a survey by, 94 percent of surveyed MBAs said they were interested in working for a sharing economy company.

the sharing economyIn an ever-growing tech industry that sometimes seems to outpace itself, this forward-looking interest from MBAs is important. In the same survey, 63 percent of MBAs said that Uber was likely to still exist in 2050, whereas popular tech companies like Instagram and Facebook were 28 percent and 51 percent likely to exist, respectively. The long-standing investment firm Goldman Sachs was only given a 52 percent likelihood of survival.

Not only are MBA students increasingly interested in sharing economy companies, but these companies are also hiring MBAs at a growing rate. In Australia, Uber is even working alongside faculty at the Australian Graduate School of Management to identify talented up-and-comers to join their team. The ride-share app is expanding rapidly across the globe and has become a top recruiter for schools such as HEC Paris and INSEAD.

Finally, knowledge is one more thing that can be shared within this new economy, and that means that today’s MBAs don’t just have more opportunities to work for other people, they also have more opportunity to work for themselves. New services allow businesses to hire contractors in a freelance capacity, meaning students can make money from what they know without even leaving their living room.

Sites like HourlyNerd, which was established by a Harvard Business School MBA, has a network of more than 17,000 freelance consultants, 95 percent of whom have an MBA.

How Will the Sharing Economy Affect Business?
It’s understandable that the first critics of ride-share services like Uber were traditional taxi companies. Even if the company claims its intention is not to completely overhaul the taxi industry, it’s unavoidable that these new services will have a broad impact in the field. As products are more easily shareable, supply increases more rapidly than demand, causing prices to fall.

the sharing economySince it doesn’t seem that the sharing economy is going away, it is important for companies to adapt and grow accordingly, and hiring millennials who understand the benefits of the sharing economy is just one way to stay ahead. Companies should consider how to make their own products more shareable and see if they can join the sharing economy, rather than rebuke it. Businesses might also consider finding ways to partner with sharing economy companies to benefit their product, such as Ford’s 2011 partnership with Zipcar.

It is clear that many users find numerous benefits to being a part of the sharing economy, and while this shift in need may be worrisome as new graduates join the workforce, it’s important for companies to consider why and what about the sharing economy is appealing to consumers. Now more than ever, companies will need to hire young MBAs who can help a business stay ahead of the curve of consumer interest, rather than fall behind.

How Is the Sharing Economy Changing Business Education?
With the growth of the global sharing economy—valued in 2015 at $15 billion—and the concern it is bringing to some industries, understanding how and why sharing works is an increasingly important skill for MBAs.

Some schools have even adapted their curriculum with this in mind. Last year, the U.K.’s sharing economy trade body, SEUK, announced a partnership with the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. Together, SEUK and Oxford aim to develop the world’s first “trustmark” for the sharing economy, laying down best practices and standards for sharing economy companies and consumers. U.K Business Secretary Sajid Javid even commented on the sharing economy’s vast potential to create new jobs.

In the United States, research on the sharing economy and its impacts is still divided. While the industry’s growth is irrefutable, concerns like accessibility and the negative effects on existing industries are still real concerns. Nevertheless, the partnership between Oxford and SEUK is an important step forward, especially as more MBA programs face the question of how to adapt to this changing economy.

In order for both consumers and companies to benefit most from this changing world, such partnerships are imperative to success. Not only do today’s MBAs stand to benefit from the growth of the sharing economy, but companies stand to benefit greatly from these students, who possess a unique combination of yesterday’s know-how and today’s ambition.