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Meet the researchers: Tingting Nian & Vijay Gurbaxani

Posted on February 07, 2019

Selected for the TFI long-term research grant: Dr. Tingting Nian and Prof. dr. Vijay Gurbaxani will study the impact of the sharing economy on household finance. Who are the researchers and what motivated them to apply?

What is the research project about?

Powered by digital technologies, many peer-to-peer platforms or what is called the sharing economy have emerged in the past decade. These platforms challenge existing business models while also rendering positive benefits to the economy and society. For instance, Uber and Lyft may provide more convenience to consumers, and facilitate a more efficient use of assets. One of the most notable aspects of these platforms is that they significantly increase flexibility of work, both in the number of hours worked and in the work schedule, coupled with the ability to join the platform quickly.

In this research project, we will examine the impact of the sharing economy on households’ financial situations and local consumption. More specifically, we will analyse the changes in consumers’ credit default rates as well as local consumption patterns associated with the entry of Uber in the market. To do so, we will combine data from a variety of governmental and other sources with the launch date of Uber in U.S. metropolitan areas. We expect the earnings from Uber to smooth fluctuations in household income and therefore decrease household credit default rates. We also expect that the sharing economy will change consumption patterns as a result of the increased mobility of consumers.

“We hope that our research will inform policy-makers’ future decisions on policy interventions and as a result significantly impact people’s financial well-being.”

What motivated you to apply for the Think Forward Initiative research grant?

Similar to one of the goals of the Think Forward Initiative, our study aims to understand i) how individuals make financial decisions and ii) the factors that affect their financial-decision making. With this goal in mind, we applied for the Think Forward Initiative research grant to accelerate our research, and equally important, share the results with a broader audience, and especially, the Think Forward Initiative community.

How do you expect that your research will contribute to people’s financial well-being?

Our research attempts to answer questions on the impact of the sharing economy on consumers’ borrowing, default, and spending decisions. As gig employment will account for an increasing share of employment opportunities in the future, it is imperative to develop a better understanding of the effect of this form of employment on household finance. We hope that our research will inform policy-makers’ future decisions on policy interventions (e.g. tax policy, worker classifications) in this realm, which have the potential to significantly impact people’s financial well-being.

Tingting Nian is an Assistant Professor of Information Systems at the Paul Merage School of Business, University of California. She holds a PhD from the Stern School of Business, New York University, and has a special interest in the sharing economy and online open source communities. Her previous research has received impressive rewards such as the Hellman Fellowship, and the WCAI Research Award from the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative.

Vijay Gurbaxani, co-investigator, is Taco Bell Endowed Professor of Information Systems and Computer Science, and Director of the Center for Digital Transformation at the Paul Merage School of Business. He authored the book, “Managing Information Systems Costs,” and has published numerous articles on how information technologies create value in premier journals including Information Systems Research, Management Science and MIS Quarterly.