P4 – Collaborative business models and shared mobility: a case of cooperative competition?
If you are involved in shared mobility platforms in Antwerp or the Netherlands, please let me know how to contact you using the form below, in English, French or Dutch.
Bent u betrokken bij gedeelde mobiliteitsplatformen in Antwerpen of Nederland, laat me dan graag weten hoe ik u kan contacteren via onderstaand formulier.
Si vous êtes impliqué dans des plates-formes de mobilité partagée à Anvers ou aux Pays-Bas, veuillez me faire savoir comment vous contacter en utilisant le formulaire ci-dessous.
My final research project seeks to produce a better understanding of collaborative business models in the field of shared mobility by looking at the platforms that bundle mobility services. I want to know how these platforms work, how their own business models interact with the business models of service providers, how governments and other actors deal with these platforms, and how they can work better.
In practice, this means looking at attempts that have been made in the Netherlands and Flanders to produce a single, integrated platform that gives users access to many mobility services. What I am particularly interested in is the steady addition of more services to these platforms, moving beyond information, coordination and matching to payment and access to physical vehicles.
Intermodal and interoperable platforms
Platforms that show users where a mix of different shared vehicles and rides are available have existed for some time. Intermodal platforms, where different mobility modes are combined, have been operating commercially for some years now in several European cities. Interoperable platforms, which provide access to multiple providers of a single mode or type of vehicle, are somewhat rarer, as they bundle together providers who are in direct competition with each other. By the same token, these platforms simplify the governance problem of managing a limited shared resource that all providers depend on, such as the street space needed to park shared bicycles.
Business models, competition and collaboration
Using the business model as a way of studying mobility service platforms provides some well-established conceptual tools to analyse how these platforms sustain themselves as innovators against a regulatory backdrop still premised on the individual mass ownership of vehicles. What is less well understood is how platforms ‘integrate’ multiple service providers, each with their own business models. What kind of business model do these platforms have, and what does it mean for them to act as integrators or intermediaries between other organisations, especially when these are very heterogeneous? If these service providers are still supposed to compete with each other for market share, while simultaneously collaborating to the minimum extent required for the platform to work, some basic assumptions of the classic business model may need an update that works for the sharing economy.
Our cases: the Netherlands and Antwerp
For example, in the Netherlands, a lot of work has been done to develop a platform that allows multiple bikeshare providers to offer their services to a single user on an interoperable basis: sign in to one, use them all. However, this bold step forward brings with it many challenges that have not yet been resolved in such areas as public sector support, regulatory anachronisms, risk and reward, and late, but not least, the Covid-19 pandemic. These difficulties, inter alia, may explain why this platform is not yet fully operational at scale in the world’s leading cycling nation.
Across the border in Flanders, where cycling infrastructure density and mode share are lower but still among the highest in Europe, the city of Antwerp has developed a Mobility Marketplace that bundles multiple providers into an intermodal mobility service platform. This platform, which is operational, is noteworthy for the clarity of the city’s approach and what it requires of participants who hope to gain access to public resources (like space).
These two cases, one focused on interoperability and one on intermodality, are real examples of the complexity of integrating organisations and their activities for the benefit of ordinary people, both as users of the service and as the ‘public’ in ‘public resources. While the Netherlands offers examples of operational intermodal mobility service platforms, the choice of Antwerp means that this study will incorporate an example outside of the exceptionally mature and developed Dutch cycling regime. This last point is key because of the latter’s considerable influence on the development of bikeshare in the Netherlands, and its uniqueness in the world.
Planning – Data Collection
Data collection for this study will take place in the months of May, June and July 2020 by means of interviews with six groups:
- Antwerp: providers of mobility services involved in platforms
- Antwerp: originators and operators of the Mobility Marketplace
- Antwerp: public-sector stakeholders
- The Netherlands: providers of mobility services involved in platforms
- The Netherlands: originators and operators of platforms
- The Netherlands: public-sector stakeholders
Image source: Damanjit