An Institutional Logics Perspective on the Gig Economy

We witness rising tensions between online gig-economy platforms, incumbent firms, regulators, and labor unions, authors Koen Frenken, Taneli Vaskelainen, Lea Fünfschilling and Laura Piscicelli argue. 

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In this chapter, they use the framework of institutional logics as an analytical lens and scheme to understand the fundamental institutional challenges prompted by the advent of the online gig economy. 

The authors view gig-economy platforms as corporations that organize and self-regulate markets. In doing so, they span two parallel markets: the market for platforms competing to provide intermediation services and the market for the self-employed competing on platforms to provide peer-to-peer services. Self-regulation by platforms also weakens the traditional roles of the state. While the corporation and market logics empower the platform, they weaken self-employed suppliers as platforms’ design constrain suppliers to grow into a full-fledged business by limiting their entrepreneurial freedom. At the same time, current labor law generally does not classify suppliers as employees of the platform company, which limits the possibility to unionize. The current resolutions to this institutional misalignment are sought in “band aid solutions” at the level of sectors. Instead, as we argue, macro-institutional reform may be needed to re-institutionalize gig work into established institutional logics.

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Published Aug. 28, 2020 11:46 AM - Last modified Sep. 7, 2020 1:15 PM