Ridesharing in Developing Countries: Perspectives From India and Thailand
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The increasing number of internet users and the adoption of cloud-based technology have significantly contributed to the growth of ridesharing across the world. Previous research in developed countries reveals that, despite many criticisms, the rise of ridesharing offers extra income to drivers, and provides an environmentally-friendly solution to society. However, there is less research on ridesharing in developing countries. Therefore, this research will study adaptation to ridesharing in developing countries, particularly in India and Thailand, by exploring it from the perspectives of four main interest group – passengers, local businesses, ridesharing drivers and government – as well as ridesharing platform operators. With the research purpose above, the research question is: ‘How are India and Thailand adapting to the rise of ridesharing?’. The topic is examined through thematic analysis of empirical data sourced primarily from news articles. A comparative case study is applied as the main research methodology to compare how the two countries are adapting to the rise of ridesharing. The key findings of this research are as follows. From the point of view of passengers, passengers in India are more sceptical of ridesharing services than those in Thailand. Safety concerns are more prominent in India, whereas in Thailand ridesharing services are more highly appreciated due to dissatisfaction with the local taxi services. From the point of view of local businesses, in India some taxi companies have adapted their business strategies to gain market share, whereas in Thailand local taxis in particular have not adapted and protest against the ridesharing services because they consider their income to be stolen in unfair competition and the sector not adequately regulated by the government. Ridesharing drivers in both countries are concerned about the deteriorating benefits and income. In India, the ridesharing drivers have responded by protesting against the ridesharing operators since 2017. In contrast, the drivers in Thailand do not seem to be as concerned with this issue and are viewed by other interest groups as those who benefit the most. While ridesharing is regulated in some parts of India, it is still completely unregulated in Thailand. Both national and local governments in both countries are working on reviewing laws and regulations for the benefit of all interest groups. However, the local taxi operators in Thailand are protesting against the ridesharing legalisation plan. In response to the protests of ridesharing drivers in India and the local taxi operators in Thailand, ridesharing platform operators have apologised to their passengers for the inconvenience caused and have in Thailand advised their drivers on how to avoid conflict with the local taxi operators. However, they have refused any long-term solutions to address the underlying causes of the strikes. In summary, the interest groups have responded differently to the challenges in the two countries. The findings contribute to the ridesharing literature and reveal in particular the efforts of governments to regulate ridesharing. However, there seems to be no single model on how developing countries can best adapt to the rise of ridesharing.