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Eastern Academy of Management 2019

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Digital Freelance Platforms: Distinguishing Mechanisms for Equity in Hiring and Pay

Organizations increasingly engage with digital freelance (‘gig’ work) platforms to bring flexibility and expertise to their workforce. However, this contemporary mode of hiring has prompted social criticism over gig worker economic wellbeing. The following expands this discourse by focusing on a fundamental human resource management aspect that has received far less consideration — the potential for digital freelance platforms to promote equity in hiring and pay for traditionally disadvantaged groups. We identify dynamics inherent to an archetypal skilled freelance platform that support such equity: low uncertainty regarding worker quality, low search costs for clients seeking freelancers, and high transparency of information surrounding each platform exchange. A wide range of research is assimilated to derive this conceptual treatment and bring greater clarity to the nascent narrative surrounding digital freelance platforms. We conclude with consideration of threats remaining to gig worker economic wellbeing and implications for scholarship and practice.

Kimberly Merriman
Manning School of Business, UMass Lowell
United States

Lauren Turner
UMass Lowell
United States

David Morand
Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg
United States

 


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