Understanding the organization of sharing economy in agri-food systems: evidence from alternative food networks in Valencia

Isabel Miralles, Domenico Dentoni*, Stefano Pascucci

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the proliferation of sharing economy initiatives in agri-food systems, the recent literature has still not unravelled what sharing exactly entails from an organizational standpoint. In light of this knowledge gap, this study aims to understand which resources are shared, and how, in a heterogeneous set of sharing economy initiatives in the context of food and agriculture. Specifically, this study compares the organization of various forms of alternative food networks (AFNs), which are recognized to be frugal forms of sharing economy initiatives (i.e., locally based, small-scale and with limited use of information technology), in terms of leadership, bureaucracy, shared resources and participants’ engagement. Data from a comparative case study across 18 AFNs identify five sharing economy models of AFNs with distinctive shared resources and organizational mechanisms: consumer groups; commercial community gardens; as well as network-based, privately owned and publicly owned self-consumption community gardens. These models also display notable differences in terms of their origins, participants’ goals and constraints which, to some extent, may be associated to the nature of their organization. Findings inform policy-makers, AFNs’ leaders and stakeholders—especially those seeking to support innovative models towards sustainable transitions—on how to tailor institutional norms and develop networks to meet the heterogeneous needs of different typologies of sharing economy initiatives in agri-food systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)833-854
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number4
Early online date15 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Case study
  • Community gardens
  • Consumer groups
  • Organization theory
  • Sharing economy

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