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 the participation of national workforces, platforms, and gig requesters in the gig economy; and how they shape gig regulation. It is expected that the extent and types of gig work, and the motives for it, are institutionally conditioned and thus different between economies. Similarly, it is hypothesized that the coverage and contents of regulatory proposals is differently influenced between economies by the existing labour-market institutions. Empirically, these hypotheses are tested through large-N analyses of gig requesters and gig workers (active on the freelancer.com and upwork.com portals) and through semi-structured interviews with gig requesters, platform representatives, and gig workers in the global North and South.

Media Coverage

Youtube Video-Interview with “Future of Work Insiders” (14 Oct. 2022)
5 Interview Episodes together with Frederik Fahning (co-founder of the Platform ZenJob) entitled ’Future of Work Insiders: Conversation with Frederik Fahning and Andrea Herrrmann’
by Stevan Vujasinovic [web]

NSM in Focus – Online Magazine of Radboud University (June 2021)
Interview entitled ‘In the future, we could all be giggers’
by Machiel van Zanten [web]

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. and Karthika Nadarajah (2023)
The Metamorphosis of Platform Work Since the Pandemic: A Regulatory Odyssey
Blog Post of the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB) [web]

Herrmann, Andrea M. (2023)
How the Online Gig Economy Challenges the Education-Income Paradigm
IfM / FGF Policy Brief Mittelstand aktuell, Ausgabe 07/23: Bonn: Institut für Mittelstandsforschung. [pdf]

Van Slageren, Jaap and Andrea M. Herrmann (forthcoming)
"Skill Specificity in the Online Gig Economy: Same as in Traditional Labour Markets?"
Social Forces [pdf]

Koutsimpogiorgos, Nikos, Koen Frenken and Andrea M. Herrmann (2023)
"Platform Adaptation to Regulation: The Case of Domestic Cleaning in Europe"
Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 65 (No. 2): pp. 156-184. [pdf] [web]

Herrmann, Andrea M., Petra Zaal, Maryse M.H. Chappin, Brita Schemmann and Amelie Lühmann (2023)
"‘We Don’t Need No (Higher) Education’ – How the gig economy challenges the education-income paradigm"
Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 186 (Part A): Article No. 122136 [pdf] [web]

Van Slageren, Jaap, Andrea M. Herrmann and Koen Frenken (2022)
"Is the Online Gig Economy Beyond National Reach? A European Analysis"
Socio Economic Review, Vol. 21 (No. 3): pp. 1795–1821. [pdf] [web]

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]