Fair Labor in the Digitized Economy
A four-year research project funded by the Research Council of Norway
A four-year research project funded by the Research Council of Norway
We’re excited to contribute a chapter to the new issue of Research in the Sociology of Organizations (RSO). In our chapter titled “Shaping Emotional Labor Practices in the Sharing Economy”, we are investigating how digital platforms of the sharing economy encourage and enforce emotional labor practices among both consumers (passengers, guest etc.) and providers (drivers, hosts etc.).
Here, we follow a mixed methods approach, combining survey research among Airbnb and Uber users with content analysis of seven leading sharing economy platforms.
Our findings show that (1) users perform emotional labor despite not seeing is as necessarily desirable and (2) platforms actively encourage the performance of emotional labor practices even in the absence of direct formal control. Emotional labor practices are encouraged through (hard) design features such as mutual ratings, reward systems, and gamification, as well as through more subtle (soft) normative framing of desirable practices via platform and app guidelines, tips, community sites, or blogs.
The article "The privacy implications of social robots: Scoping review and expert interviews" was recently published in Mobile Media & Communication. The paper by Christoph Lutz, Maren Schöttler (Free University of Berlin) and Christian Pieter Hoffmann (University of Leipzig) systematically assesses the privacy implications of social robots, based on a scoping review and expert interviews.
In the scoping review, the authors analyze 33 relevant publications across fields. In the expert interviews, salient aspects from the literature review are discussed in more depth through the voices of four academic experts, one practitioner, and one policy expert. Together, the analyses show that social robots introduce new privay challenges due to their autonomy and mobility. The article is available here and is part of a Mobile Media & Communication special issue on the topic of "mobile media beyond the mobile phone".
Christoph Lutz, together with co-authors Heike Felzmann (NUI Galway), Eduard Fosch Villaronga (University of Leiden) and Aurelia Tamo-Larrieux (University of Zurich), published a new article in the open access journal Big Data & Society.
Their conceptual article "Transparency you can trust: Transparency requirements for artificial intelligence between legal norms and contextual concerns" investigates the phenomenon of transparency in artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision-making from a legal, sociological and ethical perspective. The article is a continuation of earlier work on this issue and extends the analyses from robotics to AI more generally. The full article is freely available here. Since its publication at the end of June 2019, the paper has been downloaded over 1000 times and has been heavily tweeted, reaching up to 200000 followers.
Kateryna Maltseva, Christian Fieseler, and Hannah Trittin-Ulbrich have recently published an article named “The challenges of gamifying CSR communication” in the Corporate Communications: An International Journal. Gamification – the use of game elements in non-game context – is a tool that practitioners commonly use to craft persuasive messages to win the attention of their stakeholders.
Gamification is seen as engaging and involving tool that has a potential to draw attention and sustain attention. In three online experiments, the authors demonstrate that the optimism around gamification effectiveness might be premature as there are boundary conditions to the effects of gamification on environmental attitude, intention and behavior.
The article Collective Action and Provider Classification in the Sharing Economy by Gemma Newlands, Christoph Lutz and Christian Fieseler was published in the prestigious journal New Technology, Work and Employment. Using data from 386 sharing economy providers (e.g., Airbnb hosts, Uber drivers) across 12 European countries, the authors investigate soft forms of provider self-organization and attitudes towards collective action.
They also look at provider self-classification: the question whether sharing economy providers see themselves as independent contractors or as employees of sharing platforms. The findings point to varied opinions and practices, with five overarching clusters that range from collective action enthusiasts to collective active opponents. Sharing modalities such as motivations, sharing frequency and the main platform where providers offer access to their goods differentiate these clusters. For example, Uber drivers are more positive towards collective action and also have a stronger preference to be classified as employees compared with Airbnb hosts and BlaBlaCar drivers. The article can be found here.
In our new article 'Consumer segmentation within the sharing economy: The case of Airbnb', published in the Journal of Business Research, we find that the users of Airbnb services are distinguished by their use-type (selecting shared rooms vs entire homes) and that income, education, gender, and travel modality predict accommodation choices.
Utilizing a mixed methods approach, with both a quantitative survey and a qualitative content analysis of Airbnb listings, we compare two different types of accommodation offered on Airbnb: shared room and entire home. Our key findings in this paper highlight how Airbnb hosts strongly target their listings for consumer segments, but that guest choice and host targeting do not align, leading to potential innefficiency in the market.
The paper can be found here
In our new article in Academy of Management Discoveries, we were interested in the notion of authenticity in the sharing economy. The sharing economy is witnessing an interesting balance, where on the one side, platforms and providers like to brand authentic experiences, and clients claim to actively seek such experiences.
However, at the same time, the sharing economy is increasingly becoming professionalized, witnessing an outgrowth of third-party service provider and less acceptance for service failures. Against this background, based on a qualitative interview-study as well as on a quantitative survey among users of the room sharing platform Airbnb, we show how the degree of perceived authenticity may impact review behavior and customer loyalty. Our results point to the integral nature of both authenticity and the invocation of notions of authenticity for sharing business models who are reliant, by their very nature, on alleviating the imperfections of amateur production.
REFERENCE: Bucher, E., Fieseler, C., Fleck, M., & Lutz, C. (2017). Authenticity and the sharing economy. Academy of Management Discoveries. https://doi.org/10.5465/amd.2016.0161
Our new article in Computers in Human Behavior focuses on how crowdworkers construct meaningfulness, based on the accounts of workers on the crowdsourcing platform Amazon Mechanical Turk. We draw upon a relational job design perspective to explore why microworkers experience meaningfulness in their work. We found four sources of meaningfulness: rewards, self-improvement, moral, and social.
These four sources vary in the degree to which they were internal or external in focus, and in their level of rationalization (concrete or abstract). This may explain why such types of employment are appealing despite a lack of organizational-support structures and points to the need to better understand cue provision in virtual, platform-enabled work settings.
REFERENCE: Kost, D., Fieseler, C., & Wong, S. (2018). Finding meaning in a hopeless place? The construction of meaningfulness in digital microwork. Computers in Human Behavior, 82, 101-110.
The article Making Academic Social Capital Visible: Relating SNS-Based, Alternative and Traditional Metrics of Scientific Impact by Christoph Lutz and Christian Pieter Hoffmann (University of Leipzig) was published in the prestigious journal Social Science Computer Review (2017 Impact Factor of 2.293).
Based on a social network analysis of follower-following relationships on ResearchGate and extensive bibliometric data about 300 scholars at a Swiss university, the authors investigate how different metrics of scientific impact relate to each other. The findings indicate that metrics derived from specific-purpose social media and social networking services such as Mendeley correlate strongly with established citation metrics such as researchers' Google Scholar and Web of Science h-index. Metrics derived from general-purpose social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, on the other hand, have only weak correlations with established citation metrics. Finally, centrality in the ResearchGate network has moderate correlations with most other indicators assessed, showing future potential of social network analysis-based metrics of impact assessment. Such centrality measures might indeed capture academic social capital. The article can be found here.
Christoph, together with Grant Blank from the Oxford Internet Institute (University of Oxford), published a new article, entitled "Representativeness of Social Media in Great Britain: Investigating Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram", in the prestigious journal American Behavioral Scientist.
The authors investigate how different social media platforms differ in their user base in terms of demographic, socio-economic, and attitudinal characteristics. Using rich and high quality data from the Oxford Internet Survey, they find pronounced age and socio-economic differences. Facebook, for example, is used more heavily among young individuals and women as well as users with access to mobile devices and high levels of self-efficacy. The findings have implications for social media research, as no platform is representative of the broader population. The paper can be found here.
Christian, Eliane and Christian Hoffmann (University of Leipzig) just published a new article named "Unfairness by Design? The Perceived Fairness of Digital Labor on Crowdworking Platforms" in the Journal of Business Ethics.
In the article, we analyze institutional biases embedded in on-demand crowdworking platforms and their effect on perceived workplace fairness. We find a triadic relationship between employers, workers, and platform providers, where platform providers have the power to design settings and processes that affect workers’ fairness perceptions. The article can be found here.
Christian, together with Severina Müller (University of St. Gallen), Miriam Meckel (Wirtschaftswoche) and Anne Suphan (University of Hohenheim) just had a new article published in Social Science Computer Review.
The article named "Time Well Wasted? Online Procrastination during Times of Unemployment" examines the argument regarding whether perceived social exclusion during unemployment leads to procrastination through online media, which in turn lessens the job search efforts of the unemployed.Based on data from unemployed Internet users, we argue that online procrastination plays an important role in the lives of the unemployed but has no immediate effects on their perceived job search efforts, but contextual factors such as motivational control play an important role. The article can be found here
Christoph Lutz recently published a new article in the prestigious journal “Information, Communication & Society”. The paper introduces a new typology of online participation and is co-authored with Christian Pieter Hoffmann from the University of Leipzig.
Through focus groups with almost 100 Internet users in Germany, Christoph and Christian derived a typology of online participation with eight forms along three axes. The forms address a range of biases in the literature such as a positivity bias, a political bias and an agency bias.
The article "Benefits and harms from Internet use: A differentiated analysis of Great Britan" by Christoph Lutz and Grant Blank (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford) was published in New Media & Society. The piece looks at the positive and negative outcomes from using the Internet among different population segments in Great Britain.
Drawing on rich survey data from more than 1000 individuals, the authors show that highly educated and elderly Internet users profit more from their Internet use than less educated and younger users. However, educated users are also most at risk to be harmed, for example by having their credit card information stolen or being misrepresented online.
In their article “The flow of digital labor”, recently published in New Media and Society, Christian Fieseler and Eliane Bucher discuss flow experiences as a driver for engaging in digital microwork, while also looking at factors which may lead to improved digital work experiences in general. Even with the rise of the robots, there are (still) a multitude of tasks which cannot be completed by computers.
Digital microwork platforms such as Amazon Mechanical Turk or Taskrabbit specialize in such human micro-tasks like tagging images, transcribing snippets of text or correctly categorizing the sentiment expressed in a tweet. They broker micro work-packages to an anonymous digital workforce for micro-compensations. Microworkers typically work in their leisure time and they often work for a relatively small overall hourly wage. Based on a survey of 701 workers on amazon mechanical turk, the authors show that intrinsic motivation, complete absorption into the task-stream at hand as well as enjoyment of working on tasks which are sometimes challenging, yet not impossible to solve, contribute to flow-like states of immersion during digital microwork. Furthermore, the authors show that reaching flow while in digital microwork depends on certain work characteristics, such the perceived degree of worker autonomy, the extent to which a worker’s skills are utilized or challenged, and the significance of feedback received for a job well done. The results both highlight the importance of flow-like immersion in explaining why individuals engage in digital labor projects and point to avenues that may lead to the design of optimal digital work experiences.
Article on the Sharing Economy published in Computers in Human Behavior. The article "What's mine is yours (for a nominal fee) – Exploring the spectrum of utilitarian to altruistic motives for Internet-mediated sharing" by Eliane Bucher, Christian Fieseler and Christoph Lutz has been accepted in Computers in Human Behavior and is now available online.
In their article, the authors discuss that social-hedonic motives are the strongest predictor of Internet-mediated sharing, such as on platforms as AirBnB, and that monetary incentives may be necessary but not sufficient for online sharing.
We are happy to present four papers at this year's Academy of Management conference at Los Angeles: // Hoffmann, C., Lutz, C., & Meckel, C. (2016). Academic Social Capital? Relating Centrality on Research-Gate to Established Impact Measures. Paper to be presented at the 2016 AOM Annual Meeting, Anaheim, 5-9 August. //
Kost, D., Wong, S. I, & Fieseler, C. (2016). Finding meaning in a hopeless place: The construction of meaning in digital microwork. Paper Accepted for presentation at Annual Meeting of Academy of Management, Anaheim, California, USA, August 2016 // Wu, J., Giessner, S. R., & Wong, S. I. (2016). When will followers voice up? Interplay between leader-member exchange (dis)similarity and leader group prototypicality. Paper accepted for presentation at Annual Meeting of Academy of Management, Anaheim, California, USA, August 2016. // Kost, D. (2016). Transactive Memory systems in virtual teams: The effect of integration and differentiation on performance. Paper accepted for presentation at Annual Meeting of Academy of Management, Anaheim, California, USA, August 2016. More information about the AOM conference is available here: http://aom.org/annualmeeting/theme/
A new paper by Christoph Lutz, entitled “A Social Milieu Approach to the Online Participation Divides in Germany,” has been published in the open access journal Social Media + Society. The article is freely available online on the journal homepage.
It deals with online participation in Germany: active uses of the Internet, where users create and share their own content, for example via blogs, video platforms or on social media. By analyzing focus groups and online communities, this qualitative study identifies different online participation patterns in seven social milieus. Age and proactive attitudes partly account for the milieu differences, with the role of socio-economic status being more complex than assumed in previous research.
We will be present with five papers at this year's conference of the International Communication Association in Fukuoka, Japan: // Lutz, C., & Tamò, A. (2016). Communicating with Robots: ANTalyzing the Interaction between Digital Interlocutors and Humans. Paper to be presented at the 2016 ICA Post-Conference “Communicating with Machines: The Rising Power of Digital Interlocutors in Our Lives”, Fukuoka, 14 June 2016.
// Blank, G., & Lutz, C. (2016). Benefits and Harms from Internet Use – A Differentiated Analysis in the UK. Paper to be presented at the 2016 ICA Annual Conference, Fukuoka, 9-13 June 2016. // Fieseler, C., Bucher, E., & Lutz, C. (2016). Why Do We Share? Exploring Monetary, Moral and Social-Hedonic Motives for Internet-Mediated Sharing. Paper to be presented at the 2016 ICA Annual Conference, Fukuoka, 9-13 June 2016.// Hoffmann, C. P., Lutz, C., & Poëll, R. (2016). Blasting and Posturing: A Gender Divide in Young Facebook Users’ Online Political Participation. Paper to be presented at the 2016 ICA Annual Conference, Fukuoka, 9-13 June 2016. // Ranzini, G., Lutz, C., & Gouderjaan, M. (2016). Swipe Right: An Exploration of Self-Presentation and Impression Management on Tinder. Paper to be presented at the 2016 ICA Annual Conference, Fukuoka, 9-13 June 2016. You can find more information on this year's ICA conference here: http://www.icahdq.org/conf/