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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 30, 2023

Legal and Institutional Impediments to Sharing Economy: Case of Uber’s Non-Uptake in Hong Kong

  • Kwan-Yuen Iu EMAIL logo and Paul W. H. Cheuk


Technological innovations can significantly impact market structures and the behavior of actors, necessitating legal changes. However, in the face of technological changes brought by sharing economy, there is a differential in the responsiveness of rule-making institutions across different jurisdictions. This article analyses the rule-making institutions that allow for the regulatory changes procured by Uber and the institutional impediments that may restrict jurisdiction in accommodating this type of crowd-based technological disrupters. Uber’s non-adoption in Hong Kong is compared to its success in the United States to evaluate the limitations of rule-making institutions in responding to the legal change required by sharing economy companies. Changes in the rule-making institutions themselves may be needed to accelerate technological innovations and economic growth. This article suggests that there is a lack of institutional adaptability in Hong Kong, where the rule-making institutions are unable to facilitate potential regulatory reform. While the feasibility of changing a particular jurisdiction’s electoral system and political systems may be low, jurisdictions can improve the accountability of their executive regulators by modifying the incentive structure.

Corresponding author: Kwan-Yuen Iu, LL.M. (UChicago), J.D./M.S.Sc. (CUHK), MSc. (LSE), B.Sc. (QMUL), Pupil Barrister at Albert Luk’s Chambers, Hong Kong, China, E-mail:

This paper was presented at the Asian Law and Economics Association Annual Conference 2022 at Seoul National University. For their discussions, comments and suggestions, the authors thank the participants of the conference. We would also like to express our deep gratitude to Elizabeth Kregor (Lecturer in Law, Chicago Law School), Director of The Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship) and Catherine Copeland Gryczan (Lecturer in Law at Chicago Law School, Assistant Director of The Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship) for their useful comments of this research work. All errors are our own.


The authors would like to express our very great appreciation to Ms. Vivian Ip, Prof. Miron Mushkat, Ms. Shiyao Wan, Ms. Tenny Fung, Mr. Jeff Su, Mr. Anson Chan, Mr. Summer Chan, Mr. Henry Leung and Mr. Nigel Lau.

Published Online: 2023-01-30

© 2023 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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