Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

Crowd working in Germany

From food delivery services to simple click jobs: online platforms have created an extremely flexible job market. An ITAS working paper analyzes this development and provides an overview of initiatives to represent crowd workers in Germany.
Crowdworking in Deutschland
Source: KIT

In recent years, a variety of online platforms have emerged, which are often considered to disrupt the branches in which they operate. “Uber” has revolutionized the taxi industry all around the globe, “Upwork” allows companies to hire freelancers on demand, and “Lieferando”’s customers get live updates on the exact location of their ordered pizzas.

“These platforms certainly provide innovative customer experiences, but at the same time they establish new forms of digital work by acting as intermediaries between clients and workers,” says Linda Nierling, who leads the German part of a research project on crowdwork funded by the European Commission.

Controversial debates on working conditions

The phenomenon referred to as crowdwork has been controversially debated in recent years. Some claim that it comes with poor working conditions, while others uphold the benefits of flexibility and efficient digital matching for the workers. “Therefore, it is necessary to ask how far collective action and interest representation of crowdworkers can succeed in improving their working conditions,” states Linda Nierling.

Systematic analysis of current evidence on crowdwork

Together with her ITAS colleagues Bettina Krings and Leon Küstermann, she now presents the results of the first phase of the European research project. The working paper offers a comprehensive overview of the German crowdwork landscape, with a special focus on interest representation of crowd workers.

The researchers also provide a systematic analysis of the current conceptual and empirical evidence on crowdwork. “Profound empirical evidence is still much needed since, despite a growing number of empirical studies, there is uncertainty about how to conceptualize crowdwork and the extent to which it has already disrupted employment relations in Germany,” points out co-author Bettina Krings. (16.11.2020)

Bibliographic data:

Nierling, Linda; Krings, Bettina-Johanna; Küstermann, Leon
The Landscape of Crowd Work in Germany. An overview of the scientific and public discourse. Karlsruhe: KIT Scientific Working Papers 2020, 67 S., ISSN: 2194-1629
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