Why do companies’ institutional strategies differ across cities? A cross-case analysis of bike sharing in Shanghai & Amsterdam

Arnoud van Waes, Jacco Farla, Rob Raven

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Bike sharing has the potential to contribute to more sustainable urban mobility. Companies providing this service need to generate legitimacy for their venture when entering new cities. They may have to change formal and informal institutions in cities they want to operate. In this paper we explore how and why companies’ institutional strategies differ across cities. We compare strategies of emerging free-floating bike sharing companies in Shanghai and Amsterdam. These cities provide a counterintuitive starting point: Shanghai is a car-dominant city which has embraced bike sharing, whereas in Amsterdam – a typical cycling city – it was banned soon after its introduction. We find that companies use similar launching strategies, but different institutional strategies as they respond to varying spatial conditions consisting of local institutions (e.g. rules, norms and cultures) physical place specific elements (e.g. infrastructures and urban mobility challenges) and issues of power (e.g. support and resistance).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-163
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


  • Bike sharing
  • Business strategy
  • Institutional work
  • Micromobility

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