Algorithmic Control and Gig Workers: A Legitimacy Perspective of Uber Drivers

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



Organisations increasingly rely on algorithms to exert automated managerial control over workers, referred to as algorithmic control (AC). The use of AC is already commonplace with platform-based work in the gig economy, where independent workers are paid for completing a given task (or “gig”). The combination of independent work alongside intensive managerial monitoring and guidance via AC raises questions about how gig workers perceive AC practices and judge their legitimacy, which could help explain critical worker behaviours such as turnover and non-compliance. Based on a three-dimensional conceptualisation of micro-level legitimacy tailored to the gig work context (autonomy, fairness, and privacy), we develop a research model that links workers’ perceptions of two predominant forms of AC (gatekeeping and guiding) to their legitimacy judgements and behavioural reactions. Using survey data from 621 Uber drivers, we find empirical support for the central role of micro-level legitimacy judgements in mediating the relationships between gig workers’ perceptions of different AC forms and their continuance intention and workaround use. Contrasting prior work, our study results show that workers do not perceive AC as a universally “bad thing” and that guiding AC is in fact positively related to micro-level legitimacy judgements. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-507
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2023

External IDs

Scopus 85115336958
WOS 000698290100001
Mendeley 5741819f-c81c-3704-a782-78e52301ce98
ORCID /0000-0001-6006-2594/work/142254274


DFG Classification of Subject Areas according to Review Boards


  • Algorithmic control, Continuance intention, Gatekeeping vs, Guiding, Micro-level legitimacy, Platform-based gig work, Workaround use, continuance intention, micro-level legitimacy, platform-based gig work, gatekeeping vs. guiding, workaround use