Building collective institutional infrastructures for decent platform work: The development of a crowdwork agreement in Germany

Research output: Contributions to collected editions/worksChapterpeer-review


Working conditions on many digital work platforms often contribute to the grand challenge of establishing decent work. While research has examined the public regulation of platform work and worker resistance, little is known about private regulatory models. In this paper, we document the development of the “Crowdwork Agreement” forged between platforms and a trade union in the relatively young German crowdworking field. We find that existing templates played an important role in the process of negotiating this new institutional infrastructure, despite the radically new work context. While the platforms drew on the corporate social responsibility template of voluntary self-regulation via a code of conduct focusing on procedural aspects of decent platform work (i.e., improving work conditions and processes), the union contributed a traditional social partnership template emphasizing accountability, parity and distributive matters. The trade union’s approach prevailed in terms of accountability and parity mechanisms, while the platforms were able to uphold the mostly procedural character of their template. This compromise is reflected in many formal and informal interactions, themselves characteristic of a social partnership approach. Our study contributes to research on institutional infrastructures in emerging fields and their role in addressing grand challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOrganizing for societal grand challenges
EditorsAli Aslan Gümüsay, Emilio Marti, Hanna Trittin-Ulbrich, Christopher Wickert
Number of pages26
Place of PublicationBingley
PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
Publication date29.03.2022
ISBN (Print)978-1-83909-829-1
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-83909-826-0, 978-1-83909-828-4
Publication statusPublished - 29.03.2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Thomas Gegenhuber, Elke Schuessler, Georg Reischauer and Laura Thäter. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited.

    Research areas

  • Decent work, Digital platforms, Governance, Grand challenge, Institutional infrastructure, Regulation