NIKOS Award: Fanny Schiel

In the academic year 2015-2016 I’ve been a German student at UT – now young professional, age 27. I did a Bachelor’s degree in International Business and started my Masters at TU Berlin in winter 2012. My year at UT was part of the double degree programme in Innovation Management & Entrepreneurship.

My thesis deals with collaborative consumption, the trend from ownership to joint access of resources. I gave an overview of its origins, its fit with traditional economic models and its categories and characteristics. Most importantly, I researched on why people engage in the sharing economy. It turned out that participants are driven by a triad of economic, ecological and social motivations. In short: savings, convenience, joy and environmental consciousness are the main reasons to co-consume. Lower-income levels, women and the generations Y and Z are more likely to share.

I picked the topic as it had become quite a hype while academic discourse still seemed to lag behind practice. Indeed, I enjoyed reading all sorts of popular science I could get hold of but found it quite a challenge to develop a theory-backed questionnaire. But in the end, I managed to reach nearly 600 participants – that was great. Altogether, writing my thesis took more than a year – I used to work in different industries alongside my entire studies and so I did back home in 2015-2016. That actually allowed me to open up my focus and closely observe the development of the sharing economy across time. I visited conferences and spoke to sharing pioneers. Michel, my supervisor at UT, was really patient, flexible and always available for advice. So, I’d say: Choose a topic you’re interested in, take your time to develop it, collect expert knowledge and then, writing becomes much easier.

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