I am the principal investigator of the BA-funded project ‘iWork: Investigating the Future of Work and Organizing in the Digital Platform Economy’.
Digital technologies are implicated in profound changes in the nature of work. One realm of ‘knowledge work’, historically conducted by full-time professionals in the office, is increasingly technology-mediated and executed by remote independent contractors. Platforms operating online labor markets are the harbingers of these changes, yet knowledge on the social and organizational implications of platform utilization by firms is scant. The iWork project addresses this gap, answering the fundamental question how ‘work’ is changing when firms use digital platforms to bring remote independent contractors into the workplace.
The iWork project stands at the intersection of Organization and Management, Economic Sociology, and Information Systems Research. It builds upon and extends my previous work by answering substantially different questions and making novel contributions: My previous work on online labour markets adopted an ‘institutional’ lens to answer the question how – as new intermediaries – online platforms design and operate their marketplaces, thereby developing new labor market institutions. Developing such insight, I realized the significant importance of understanding the social and organizational implications of using platform technologies and associated remote working models to engage ‘online freelancers’ in the workplace. Hence, the focus of the iWork project is to advance understanding of how ‘work’ itself is changing in the digital economy and its social and organizational implications. For this, I will adopt a ‘sociology of work’ lens.
Through an ethnographic study inside the world’s largest platform for knowledge work, the project is the first to document how the platform itself engages online freelancers, thereby shaping at origin the future of work. Connecting scholarship on organizations, work and occupations, and the digital economy, the project will offer novel theoretical and methodological approaches to studying 21st century work and organizations. I will also use this fellowship to translate research findings into novel teaching offerings.
Corporaal, G.F. and Lehdonvirta, V. (2017). Platform Sourcing: How Fortune 500 Firms are Adopting Online Freelancing Platforms. Oxford Internet Institute: Oxford