Research Handbook on Digital Transformations
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Research Handbook on Digital Transformations

  • Research Handbooks in Business and Management series

Edited by F. Xavier Olleros and Majlinda Zhegu

The digital transition of our economies is now entering a phase of broad and deep societal impact. While there is one overall transition, there are many different sectoral transformations, from health and legal services to tax reports and taxi rides, as well as a rising number of transversal trends and policy issues, from widespread precarious employment and privacy concerns to market monopoly and cybercrime. They all are fertile ground for researchers, as established laws and regulations, organizational structures, business models, value networks and workflow routines are contested and displaced by newer alternatives. This Research Handbook offers a rich and interdisciplinary synthesis of some of the current thinking on the digital transformations underway.
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Chapter 14: Crowdwork, corporate social responsibility, and fair labor practices

Miriam A. Cherry and Winifred R. Poster

Abstract

Crowdwork, in which large numbers of workers find and perform paid tasks through online platforms, is a paradox. It can make job-matching and production processes more efficient, but it can also lead to a decline in labor standards. We seek to link ethical labor practices in virtual work with well-established notions of corporate social responsibility, that include concerns for worker well-being and fair treatment. We present a typology of trends in labour, and argue that the new phase of ‘crowdwork’ is distinct from previous eras of ‘industrial’ and ‘digital’ employment. The chapter then outlines three best practices for crowdwork. First is fair wages. Second is the need for transparency, or the idea of fully disclosing to crowdworkers information about their tasks, including fair estimates of time and wages, and the larger goals to which their work contributes. Third is due process, that is, ensuring that online ratings of workers are based on fair criteria, and that platforms establish an appeals process for non-payment of wages or poor ratings. Implementation of these practices would offer a better working environment online, and improve the collaborative potential of crowdwork for platforms and workers alike.

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