Exploring crowdworker participation on digital work platforms

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Digital work platforms facilitate crowdwork as a new virtual form of (global) work organization. While these platforms usually claim to be neutral mediators, they hold an influential position in determining work relations by shaping platform governance and deploying technical building blocks. The premise of this article is that if platforms can control labour processes and working conditions much like regular employers do, we should pay attention to how core employee relations issues unfold on digital work platforms. In this paper, we examine how digital work platforms organize worker participation, i.e., provide for practices and structures that grant workers a voice in managerial decision-making. Drawing on data of a covert participant observation on six Germany-based crowdwork platforms, we show that participation has a functional rather than democratic character. Participation is mostly limited to the participation modes informing and reporting rather than consultation or even co-determination. In terms of the participation level, participation is mostly limited to task-related topics rather than topics regarding platform-wide work organization or corporate strategy and development. We use these findings to discuss boundary conditions for crowdworker participation, thereby contributing to debates on worker participation in digital contexts from an employee relations perspective.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventAcademy of Management Annual Meeting - AoM 2019 - Boston, United States
Duration: 08.08.201913.08.2019