Gig Economy – Varieties of Digital Labour Markets

The advent of the ‘gig economy’, enabling the hiring of service workers through online platforms, is considered to be amongst the most significant economic changes of the past decade. A broad variety of services are transacted on these online labour markets, including jobs to be completed on-site – for example taxi services (via Uber), handicraft services (via TaskRabbit), cleaning jobs (via Helpling), or food delivery (e.g. via Deliveroo). But also a broad range of jobs to be completed online are increasingly transacted via platforms, such as image tagging (e.g. via Amazon Mechanical Turk) or programming, translations and design tasks (via Upwork).

The socio-economic consequences are massive, ranging from increased work-autonomy to the possible erosion of labour standards. The latter is particularly acute, because gig work is not covered by traditional employment legislation. Given the wide-spread expectation that the gig economy will grow substantially over the years to come, the question of whether the gig economy endangers labour rights is salient to scholars, policy-makers, and the public alike. To enable a meaningful regulation, research about the gig economy is urgently needed – yet hardly existent.

The project takes up this challenge by asking how national labour-market institutions influence (1) the participation of national workforces in the gig economy and (2) its regulation. It is expected (1) that the extent and types of gig work, and the motives for it, are institutionally conditioned. Similarly, it is hypothesized (2) that the coverage and contents of regulatory proposals, drafted by the social partners, is influenced by labour-market institutions. Empirically, these hypotheses are tested (1) through large-N analyses of gig workers active on the freelancer.com portal and (2) through semi-structured interviews with the social partners in seven Western economies.

Media Coverage

detektor.fm - Podcast, (5. May 2021)
Radio report entitled ‘Zurück zum Thema “Crowdworking - Wie verändert Crowdworking die Arbeitswelt?‘
by Johannes Schmidt [web]

Deutschlandfunk, (25 Febr 2021)
Radio report entitled ‘Plattformarbeit – Braucht Crowdworking neue Regeln?'
News Programme „Hintergrund“: by Katharina Peetz. [web]

Eine-Welt-Presse - Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Vereinten Nationen (DGVN), (February 2020)
Newspaper article entitled ‘Digitale Tagelöhner‘
Issue 2/2020 on the topic of „Digitalisierung und Arbeit“ (p.7): by Tanja Koch. [pdf]

Publications

Herrmann, Andrea M. (2020)
"Die Gig Economy in Zeiten der Krise"
Gesellschaftsforschung, Vol. 2020 (No. 2): pp. 2-3. [pdf]

Koutsimpogiorgos, Nikos, Jaap Van Slageren, Andrea M. Herrmann and Koen Frenken (2020)
"Conceptualizing the Gig Economy and its Regulatory Problems"
Policy and Internet, Vol. 12 (No. 4): pp. 525-545. [pdf]

Herrmann, Andrea M., Petra Zaal, Maryse M.H. Chappin and Brita Schemmann (2019)
"Does Education Still Matter in Online Labor Markets?"
In: Perspectives on the Sharing Economy Eds. Dominika Wruk, Achim Oberg and Indre Maurer. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing: pp. 64-71. [pdf]

Schemmann, Brita, Maryse M.H. Chappin and Andrea M. Herrmann (2017)
"The right kind of people: Characteristics of successful ideators’ online behaviour"
Creativity and Innovation Management, Vol. 26 (No. 3): pp. 277-290. [pdf]

Schemmann, Brita, Andrea M. Herrmann, Maryse M.H. Chappin and Gaston J. Heimeriks (2016)
"Crowdsourcing ideas: Involving ordinary users in the ideation phase of new product development"
Research Policy, Vol. 45 (No. 6): pp. 1145-1154. [pdf]