Institutional Strategies in the Ridesharing Economy: A Content Analysis Based on Uber’s Example

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Recently, scholars have paid growing attention to ridesharing economy firms’ institutional work to obtain legitimacy. More specifically, they have pinpointed the need for further research to better understand the actions of institutional entrepreneurs across geographical contexts. In this paper, we investigate Uber’s institutional strategies in the Brussels Capital Region from 2014 to 2020. Using the theoretical lens of institutional entrepreneurship, we apply content analysis of press media to analyse Uber in relation to authorities, incumbents, drivers and users. We also delve into the tactical aspects of Uber’s institutional work. The findings show that during the first years of operation, Uber predominantly used strategies of framing and lobbying. The company also made diverse articulations of theorization, collaboration, and negotiation. A more inductive reasoning reveals that market strategies also have a part in Uber’s institutional work. According to the findings, Uber’s quest for legitimacy in Brussels was not an unqualified success, due to conflicts and special interests complicating the market. We formulate recommendations on how actors may build a more sustainable market of ridesharing and provide some reflections on the theoretical framework.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8037
Number of pages25
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2021


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