Regulated Dependence: Platform Workers’ Responses to New Forms of Organizing

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Abstract

Platform economy organizations often resolve fundamental organizing problems with
novel solutions, thereby transforming their relationship with core stakeholders including regulators and workers. Despite the integral role played by platform workers, research on the interplay between platforms and regulatory conditions has yet to take workers into consideration. We investigate how Uber drivers engage with novel forms of organizing across different regulatory structures. Drawing on insights from resource dependence theory, we conduct a topic modeling analysis of drivers’ online forum posts and a complementary qualitative analysis of triangulated
data sources. Our findings reveal that workers do not always succumb to organizing solutions imposed upon them; they also actively oppose or supplement them. Importantly, platform workers’ responses vary with the local regulatory structure, which affects the mutual dependency and balance of power between platforms and workers. We discuss implications for the literature on new forms of organizing and the platform economy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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