Leuphana Expertise for the Mega-Metropolis Seoul

Lüneburg: Germany shares - this is the title of the “Sharing Economy” study that the sustainability expert, Professor Harald Heinrichs of Leuphana University Lüneburg, conducted. Ever since its public release in 2012, the study has drawn a great deal of attention, both nationally and internationally. Now the mayor of the Korean capitol, Seoul, has invited Professor Heinrichs to advise the metropolis’s 10 million inhabitants on the topic of “Sharing City.”

The well-known English magazine, “The Economist,” has declared the “sharing economy” to be one of the ten most important trends in the up-coming year. The sharing economy entails alternative forms of ownership and consumption, ranging from car and bike sharing to communal gardens to web-based (barter) platforms for private individuals (peer-to-peer) but also for companies (business-to-business).

In the same year, Professor Harald Heinrichs and his colleague Grunenberg wrote a initial empirical and theoretical conceptual study along the same lines. The topic was attitudes and orientations towards the sharing economy among Germans. This study helped start a broad debate in Germany on this topic. It was also translated into English and found an international audience.
In the summer of 2012, Seoul, a city of millions, adopted “Sharing City” as its theme. Mayor Park Won Soon wants to build this mission into the city’s political and administration strategies. At a lecture given in the summer of 2012, Professor Heinrichs presented his vision of the sharing economy in Seoul. Last Fall, he received the invitation from the city’s head to join a four-member international consulting committee, the “Seoul Sharing Economy International Advisory Group.” This group will work together for two years to advise Seoul on its path toward becoming a sharing city. The group will focus on strategic questions as well as the implementation of concrete measures. “It is exciting to have the honor of helping advise the mega-metropolis Seoul on its way toward becoming a sharing city, “ Heinrichs said cheerfully.

The Korean capitol plans to continue developing its sharing economy in both the private and public sectors, in order to exploit new economic, social and ecological potentials. Professor Heinrichs task will be to represent the European perspective. However, Lüneburg students do not need to worry that their professor will be traveling to Korea constantly: the working sessions of the international group will be held by video conference. 

In September 2012, Seoul declared itself the world’s first “sharing city” and it plans to adjust its infrastructure accordingly. In order to concretely promote bartering and sharing, up to 20 start-up companies in the field and 10 other companies will be granted financial support. The city will also introduce 500 vehicles as part of a broad car-sharing service. The city also wants to convince older citizens to make rooms available to students for free. Additionally, the city plans to set up tool lending stations.

The other members of the advisory group are Rachel Botsman, a key figure in the sharing debate, and April Rinne, chief strategy officer.  Both are on the team of the Collaborative Lab. Joe Gebbia, co-founder of AIRBNB is also a member.