Workers' Perceived Algorithmic Exploitation on Online Labor Platforms

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Online labor platforms (OLPs) like Uber have become increasingly prevalent, attracting numerous workers with the appeal of flexible work arrangements. OLPs present themselves as an innovative alternative to traditional employment structures, but there remains a sense of exploitation among their workers. This perception is impelled by the platforms’ heavy reliance on algorithmic management (AM), which often exerts a tighter form of management than traditional human-led oversight. This study examines how AM induces workers’ exploitation perceptions (i.e., perceived algorithmic exploitation) by conducting a grounded theory methodology on 22 interviews with Uber drivers. We identified several forms of perceived algorithmic exploitation (i.e., manipulation, falsification, disempowerment, and dependency), which include AM practices that workers perceive as disadvantaging them to the potential benefit of the OLP. Overall, this study contributes to the “dark side” of AM and offers platform providers and policymakers crucial insights to create more sustainable working environments for platform workers.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 44th International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS)
Place of PublicationHyderabad
Publication statusPublished - 2023