Skip to main content

IRC Seminar: When Algorithms are your Boss: Algorithmic Management and Platform Work

Room: HBS IRC Seminar LG01


Seminar start: 13:00


Algorithmic management is governance undertaken by software algorithms to control a multitude of platform workers who carry out tasks on behalf of a platform. The increasing significance of algorithmic management casts new light on the classical principal–agent problem. In particular, algorithmic management serves as a proxy for the platform (as principal) to address its problem of asymmetric information in relation to the platform workers (as agents) doing platform work. However, in view of the divergent interests between platform and platform worker, we surmise that algorithmic management of platform workers leads to tensions between the employment-like and self-employment-like characteristics of platform work. Grounded in our qualitative study of Uber drivers’ behavior in London and New York, we show that the radical exposure, total accountability, and mechanistic decision making of algorithmic management generate such tensions in terms of work execution, work compensation, and sense of belonging. To alleviate these tensions, platform workers seek to block, switch, or game the algorithmic management of their platform work. Our research contributes to the emerging literature on algorithmic management and platform work. Furthermore, contrary to emerging platform literature, it underlines that principal–agent theory is useful for studying the new reality of platform work.

Mareike Moehlmann Picture mtime20190118103920
Event information
Date 12th May 2019
Time 12:30pm - 2:00pm
Venue Henley Business School, Whiteknights Campus

Mareike joined the ISM group at Warwick Business School as an Assistant Professor in Information Systems and Management in 2016. Currently, she is also a teaching fellow at the London School of Economics. Previously she worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the IOMS Department at the Stern School of Business, New York University, USA (2015-2016). She received her doctoral degree in Business Administration/Management at the University of Hamburg, Germany (2012-2015).

She conducts research in the field of information systems management. Thereby, she draws on interdisciplinary perspectives in marketing (online consumer behaviour), and management. Her current research focuses on the so-called "sharing economy", (peer-to-peer) platforms, digital trust, and algorithmic management.

Get Directions