Recently we had the pleasure to welcome Michel Bauwens at de Hoorn in Leuven. Michel is the driving force behind the P2P Foundation, a global thought leader in the burgeoning field around new value creation and governance models based on peer-to-peer practices.
Plan C, the Flemish transition network for sustainable materials management, and shiftN joined forces to get Michel Bauwens to Leuven. shiftN has had a long relationship with Michel. In 2006 already we organised a 2-day event with Michel to explore what was then still an embryonic movement.
The recent event focused on the interconnections between peer-to-peer business models and the move towards product-service concepts. The latter emerge from companies’ desire to secure distinctiveness, build competitive advantage and green their business model. Inevitably this leads to a degree of ‘horizontalisation’. This means that companies that engage in the development and commercialisation of product-service concepts are led to engage in partnerships with other companies and with their customers. Peer-to-peer, on the other hand, starts from a horizontalisation reflex. It is basically an emancipatory project that aims to empower citizens to become value creators and take responsibility for governance. Peer-to-peer models can result in sustainability dividends, for example when it comes to collaborative consumption practices (such as car-sharing schemes). So, in a way, the trend towards product-service concepts and peer-to-peer practices are each other’s mirror image: the former originates from a strategic logic and leads towards horizontalisation, whilst the latter is a horizontalisation project that may lead to strategic advantage. In this seminar we wanted to explore the overlaps and interconnections between these two strategic drivers.
Michel gave a much appreciated lecture on peer-to-peer practices and models (see link to video below). We then discussed a number of interesting case studies - including Patagonia, KBC Bank and Riversimple - to explore the link between product-service concepts and peer-to-peer practices. Additional reflections (in Dutch) can be accessed via the links to the Plan C blog below.