DIGITAL LABOUR

Platform Strategies for Workforce Management in India: On-demand platforms

Reports

Title, Author(s), Organization

Digital Labour Markets in the Platform Economy: Mapping the Political Challenges of Crowd Work and Gig Work (2017)

Florian A. Schmidt, FES (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung)

Summary and link

Study is useful for creating a digital labour typology around the subcategories of three-sided marketplaces (consumer-supplier-platform) across two headings - a) cloud work (web-based digital labour) and b) gig work (location-based digital labour). Report link.

Title, Author(s), Organization

The architecture of digital labour platforms: Policy recommendations on platform design for worker well-being (2018)

Sangeet Paul Choudary, ILO (International Labour Organization)

Summary and link

Report is useful for placing the role of the business model design of primary importance to platforms, and how this leads to policies and choices that impact the well-being of workers on digital platforms. Report Link.

Title, Author(s), Organization

Bridging the Digital Gender Divide: Include, Upskill and Innovate (2018)

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)

Summary and link

Report was issued to tackle the widening digital divide between men and women. It argues that reducing this gap requires interventions that address existing socio-cultural stereotypes and foster higher women participation in ICT related activities. Report Link.

The Five Pillars of Fairwork: Labor Standards in the Platform Economy (2019)

Sai Englert, Jamie Woodcock, Mark Graham, Adam Badger - OII (Oxford Internet Institute)

Report lays out five criteria to evaluate platform economy companies. Fair [Pay, Conditions, Contracts, Management and Representation]. For 2019, it also provides a ranking of 22 such companies across India (12), and South Africa (10). Report Link.

Platform Planet: Development in the Intelligence Economy (2019)

Anita Gurumurthy, Deepti Bharthur, Nandini Chami with Jai Vipra & Ira Anjali Anwar - IT for Change

Report is comprehensive in its coverage of the kinds of platform companies that exist in countries in the Global North, and the Global South and tracing the trajectories of the conditions that lead to the development of localized business practices in these countries. In addition, the report proposes policy interventions for Global South countries to make them 'future proof' and more equitable in their working. Report Link.

Women in the gig economy: Paid work, care and flexibility in Kenya and South Africa (2019)

Abigail Hunt, Emma Samman, Sherry Tapfuma, Grace Mwaura and Rhoda Omenya with Kay Kim, Sara Stevano and Aida Roumer - ODI (Overseas Development Institute)

Report looks at women's work experiences in the gig economy from the global south (Kenya and South Africa). In particular, attention is drawn to how this affects their management of unpaid care and domestic work. Report ends with recommendations to improve worker experiences on gig economy platforms - ensuring economic security, providing actual flexibility and balancing the role of care work. Report Link.

Locking Down the Impact of COVID-19 (2020)

Indian Federation of App-based Transport workers (IFAT) in collaboration with the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), New Delhi Office

Report tracks the effect of the COVID19 pandemic on the incomes of taxi drivers affiliated with the major ride hail platforms in India. It also looks at the measures announced by these firms and proposes significant changes to improve working conditions and provide financial relief for drivers on these platforms. Report Link.

Books

Title, Author, Press

The Sharing Economy - MIT Press (2016)

Arun Sundararajan

Summary and link

The book provides a business focused look at the rise of platform economy companies. The author focuses on the history and transformation of peer to peer exchanges through the availability of technologies today and how these will affect the future of work and living. Book Link.

Platform Capitalism - Polity Books (2016)

Nick Srnicek

The author locates the spread of platform-based capitalism in the larger growth and evolution of capitalism itself. He challenges the discourse around 'innovation' by arguing that these models lead to more capital efficiency and were an expected turn in capitalism. Book Link.

Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work - University of California Press (2019)

Alex Rosenblat

The book is a digital ethnography on ride-hailing in the United States and Canada - it centers the different kinds of workers on Uber and Lyft, their motivations, how their working day looks, and sheds light on the levels of 'independence' possible in algorithmically managed platform work. Book Link.

The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction - Polity Books (2019)

Jamie Woodcock and Mark Graham

A critical introduction which also serves as a manifesto for reconstruction. The authors look at the the origins of the gig economy, its variants, vignettes of workers from around the world, and a manifesto for how this model of work can be made for fair for workers. Book Link.

The Business of Platforms - Harper Business (2019)

Michael A. Cusumano, Annabelle Gawer and David B. Yoffie

The authors write about the management strategies that have enabled platform firms like Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook to achieve the size and influence they have. They contrast the digital platform model against conventional companies, and argue that these companies will be forced to interact with, or themselves become a technology platform to succeed. Book Link.

Papers

Title, Authors, Source

The Emerging Nature of Work in Platform Economy Companies in Bengaluru, India: The Case of Uber and Ola Cab Drivers - E-Journal of International and Comparative Labour Studies Volume 5, Number 3 - (2016)

Aditi Surie and Jyothi Koduganti

Summary and link

Paper looks at the changes in the experience in informal work in India brought about as a result of work on platform economy companies like Uber and Ola. Through interviewing over a period of several months, they look at how drivers manage financial security and risk. Paper Link.

Making a "Pro": 'Professionalism' after Platforms in Beauty-work - Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction (2019)

Noopur Raval and Joyojeet Pal

Through an ethnographic study of a beauty and wellness based platform firm in India, the authors look at how technology mediated services create expectations of 'professionalism' and how this clashes with the ground reality of gender, class and caste in care based work in India. Paper link.

India's Gig-Work Economy - Platypus - The CASTAC Blog (2019)

Noopur Raval, Anushree Gupta, Sarah Zia, Simiran Lalvani and Rajendra

Based on fieldwork done across Delhi and Mumbai, this is a series of four articles that locate the experiences of cab-drivers, and food delivery executives in urban India: how workers develop an 'algorithmic gut', how they develop fictive kinship to support each others work, how the space of a cab is shaped by gendered notions of 'safety' and 'risk' and how delivery workers time is heavily controlled. Website Link.

Digital Emporiums: Platform Capitalism in India - Media Industries Volume 6, Issue 2 (2019)

Adrian Athique

The author uses the example of state-owned cultural 'emporiums' as a way of market functioning, and locates the present day platform economy in the the way markets have evolved in India. Paper Link.

On-demand platforms and pricing: how platforms can impact the informal urban economy, evidence from Bengaluru, India - Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation Volume 14, Number 1 (2020)

Aditi Surie

Using ethnographic data from interviews with Bangalore-based workers on Urban Company and Housejoy in their carpentry, electrical work and plumbing verticals, the author looks at the impact that platforms have on the pricing of services in cities. Paper Link.

The Internet of Landlords: Digital Platforms and New Mechanisms of Rentier Capitalism - Antipode Volume 52, Issue 2 (2020)

Jathan Sadowski

Paper is important because the author reframes 'platforms' as rent-seeking landlords similar to traditional landlords that rent and lease out physical spaces in cities. Paper Link.

This microsite sets up some basic knowledge that anyone studying or writing about a platform company would find useful. The "Companies Data" page is a database we have generated through interviewing platform firms in India. Clicking on any company opens up a page that gives you an overview of their platform labour strategy. The "FAQs on Digital Labour" section is an overview of the contemporary debates in the understanding of platform firms and digital labour. The "Reading Lists" are a set of reports, books and journal publications from Management studies, Information Studies and Labour Studies on the platform economy.