Conferences in 2017 and research project Hans-Böckler-Stiftung on crowdwork

I attended several conferences this year, the Academy of Management conference in Atlanta (paper presentation and participation in the OMT doctoral consortium), co-host of a sub-theme at this years SASE meeting, the Open and User Innovation workshop in Innsbruck (with two papers), the EGOS Conference (participation in the doctoral consortium) in Kopenhagen and the Early Scholars Workshop at WU Vienna.

Research Project Crowdwork

Together with Max Ellmer and Claudia Scheba, I am conducting research on what participation mechanisms crowdsourcing platforms deploy to inform, seek feedback, engage in a dialogue with the crowd or include the crowd in decision making. I am grateful to the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung to fund this research.

Broadly spoken, there are two ways how corporations hear workers’ interest. First, mechanisms codified in labor laws (e.g., right to unionize), and second, voluntary participation mechanisms deployed by corporations, often with the purpose to improve the organizational culture and increase employee satisfaction.
Regarding the former, crowdsourcing platforms raise several questions, because they often operate beyond national jurisdictions and create global labor markets. Moreover, consider the case of crowdsourcing company’s employees establishing a union – should they also represent the crowdworkers? Arguably, it is not clear that employees and crowdworkers have the same interests, a problem similar to the relationship between with traditional employees of an organization and temporary employees (the latter is on the rise, as an article in the Globe and Mail suggests). A societal challenge that comes with these jobs is that they put additional pressure on the middle class).
Albeit interesting and highly relevant questions, our project mainly concentrates on the second dimension. Crowdsourcing platforms emphasize that they empower the crowd. Our project seeks to find out to what degree this empowerment includes implementation of voluntary participation mechanisms to hear and understand the crowdworkers’ interests. We aim to publish our results in the last quarter of 2017.

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