The Sharing Economy Meets the Sherman Act: Is Uber a Firm, a Cartel, or Something in Between?

Posted by Social Science Research Network

The Sharing Economy Meets the Sherman Act: Is Uber a Firm, a Cartel, or Something in Between?

By Mark Anderson (University of Idaho) & Max Huffman (Indiana University)

Abstract:      The sharing economy is a new industrial structure that is made possible by instantaneous internet communication and changes in life, work, and purchasing habits of individual entrepreneurs and consumers. Antitrust law is an economic regulatory scheme dating to 1890 (in the United States) and designed to address centrally controlled concentrations of economic power and threats that those concentrations would operate to contravene both consumer interest and economic efficiency. Antitrust needs reenvisioning and careful application to accommodate a modern enterprise structure in which thousands or millions of independent contractors joint forces to provide a service by agreement among themselves. The success of Uber, Airbnb, and other sharing economy firms, and the consumer benefits those firms promise, show both how difficult and how important that reenvisioning can be.

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