shiftN and Plan C host a seminar on P2P with Michel Bauwens

Jun 20

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.

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