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Dignified gig work: towards better conditions for algorithmic management

Lamers, L.C. (2020) Dignified gig work: towards better conditions for algorithmic management.

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Abstract:The purpose of this research is to explore under which conditions 'worker dignity' is enabled and restrained by algorithmic management in the gig economy. As such, this thesis is led by the following research question: Under which conditions can algorithmic management enable and restrain dignity in gig work? By conducting this research, two contributions can be made to existing bodies of literature. First, novel insights are expected in addition to the social science studies on gig work and algorithmic management as the philosophical lens of human dignity is introduced to investigate these phenomena. Second, the explored practices in the gig economy might bring innovative ideas on dignity of work for the field of philosophy. The study is based on a multi-method approach. As a start, a literature research is done (in the fields of philosophy and social sciences) and expert-interviews are conducted to build an understanding of the dignity of work, the phenomenon of algorithmic management and gig work. Bridging these three literatures resulted in relevant topics that set the ground for semi-structured interviews among gig workers in the Netherlands, that are aimed at exploring various visions on gig work and the conditions under which the dignity of workers is enabled and/or restrained by the algorithmic HR decision making systems they interact with. The results are manifold. A major finding of this study is the insight that various kinds of conditions can play a role in the vision gig workers have on the dignity of algorithmic management. These are social conditions (such as the contractual arrangement of the worker), technological conditions (such as the specific features of the platform) and personal conditions (which are mainly the dependence on the work and the attitude of the worker towards the algorithmic system). The conclusion is twofold. In a broader sense, it is suggested that the literature on dignity and work is at least challenged by the idea of algorithmic management and platform work and traditional theories of workplace-, worker- and work-dignity can be used to investigate these phenomena when adjusted to the (on-demand, online and offline) socio-technical character of this work arrangement. More concretely, it is concluded that for dignified algorithmic management in gig work, at least the following conditions should be met: (a) the platform safeguards respectful (human) interaction, (b) AM tools are beneficial for workers too, (c) the platform is transparent about data gathering and decision-making, (d) the platform involves workers and provides feedback possibilities, (e) the platform promotes the development of skills and growth.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:08 philosophy
Programme:Public Administration MSc (60020)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/83405
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