UberX: Driving into London, Ontario
(9 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
In September 2015, the Community and Protective Services Committee of the City of London, Ontario, needed to report on options for potentially regulating ridesharing services provided by Uber Technologies Inc. (Uber) and other e-hail services that were upending traditional taxi services in the city and across the country. The committee needed to investigate similar situations in other jurisdictions and present the available options to London City Council, keeping in mind the city's primary concerns of health and safety, consumer protection and quality of life, and effective and efficient service delivery. The key challenge was to make ethical recommendations that took all stakeholders into account. Fundamental to the report was whether Uber should be defined as a technology company or a taxi company.
The case is suitable for undergraduate or graduate courses in cyber ethics, as an introduction to various ethical frameworks and the challenge of reconciling differing perspectives; in an ethics section in a course on information systems; or in any course that has a section dealing with disruptive innovations or technologies. The case is particularly useful for introducing students to the difficulty of governing technology-based companies that emerge as part of the sharing economy but operate in direct competition to traditional business models. Using this case, students will
- consider how innovative technologies can disrupt existing modes of practice;
- consider various ethical perspectives in a redesign of the disrupted practice;
- consider how and when technology becomes highly disruptive; and
- discuss how new business models can respond to the disruption.
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