2nd Annual Conference of Rutgers-Renmin Center for Global Work and

*Work and Employment in the Platform Economy*

Rutgers-Renmin Center for Global Work and Employment

School of Labor and Human Resources, Renmin University of China

School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University

Beijing, China, July 14-16, 2017

Conference Organizers

Mingwei Liu, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University

Adrienne Eaton, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University

Qingjun Wu, School of Labor and Human Resources, Renmin University of China

Featured Keynote Speakers & Presenters

Wilma B. Liebman, Former Chairman of the U.S. National Labor Relations Board

Arne L. Kalleberg, Professor, University of North Carolina

Arun Sundararajan (to be confirmed), Professor, Stern Business School of
New York University

Bernd Waas, Chair Professor, Goethe University Frankfurt Faculty of Law

Uma Rani Umara, Senior Economist, International Labor Organization

Ursula Huws, Professor, Hertfordshire Business School

Jack Qiu, Professor, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Susan Lund (to be confirmed), Partner, McKinsey & Company and McKinsey
Global Institute

Recent advances in digital technology, particularly the massive growth in
the volume of digitized information available and the vastly improved
performance of data processing and modelling software, have driven a
rapidly rising model of business—online platforms that connect thousands of
suppliers and customers to form so-called two-sided markets (Rochet &
Tirole, 2003; Zhu & Iansiti, 2012). While this new business model has been
given different terms such as the platform economy, the sharing economy,
the gig economy, the on-demand economy and crowdsourcing, common features
in various definitions include the irrelevance of geographical location,
the key role played by platforms, the importance of network effects and the
use of big data (Valenduc & Vendramin,  2016). Some of the best-known
examples of online platforms include eBay, Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon
Mechanical Turk. It is widely believed that the platform economy represents
a radical shift in how business is organized, and poses challenges to many
existing theories and practices of labor, employment, the firm, and the
nature of economic enterprise (Davis, 2016).

In particular, the views on the impact of the platform economy on work and
employment are mixed. Some are excited about the freedom, autonomy, and new
income and entrepreneurial opportunities brought by platform employment,
while others worry about the negative impacts of crowd work on wages, labor
rights, and access to social protections (Degryse, 2016; Huws, 2013;
Sundararajan, 2016). Although there has been a body of literature on
various aspects of this topic, further rigorous scholarship is needed as
this form of workplace evolves and as more information becomes available
about the phenomenon and its effects. Therefore the conference organizers
invite contributions that examine key questions include:

·         What are the new types of jobs and new professional identifies in
the platform economy? How do they differ from traditional ones?

·         How might various forms of platform work and employment be
conceptualized? What are the dimensions underlying different typologies and
classification systems? And how could these conceptualizations contribute
to theories of labor and management?

·         How will employment relationships change in the platform economy?
What are the challenges for existing labor laws, regulations, and public
policies? How should policy makers respond?

·         How is work designed in virtual organizations associated with the
platform economy, and how are data, digital metrics and algorithms
integrated into work processes? How do firms manage virtual labor and what
are the new forms of managerial control?

·         Why do individuals work in the platform economy? How do they
transit from traditional employment to freelancers or independent
contractors? Are they better or worse off in terms of income, working
conditions, work autonomy, work stress, access to social protection, and
work-life balance?

·         What are the challenges of the platform economy for worker
representation? How do labor unions respond to these challenges? How might
virtual labor be best organized?

·         How should we study work and employment in the platform economy?
What are the methodological opportunities and challenges?

The above list of questions is not intended to be exhaustive. The
conference organizers encourage authors to contribute papers that address
issues consistent with the themes outlined in this call for papers. Papers
can be from different theoretical perspectives, as can be the use of
different empirical methodologies (e.g. quantitative, qualitative,
case-oriented or mixed). Works presented must be original studies that
contribute to the advancement of existing knowledge and debates on the


Those interested in submitting papers for the conference are asked to
submit an abstract of 250-500 words to [log in to unmask] by May 28,
2017. The organizers aim to advise the authors if their abstracts have been
accepted by May 31, 2017. Invited authors will present their papers at a
conference to be held at Renmin University of China, Beijing, China, on
July 14-15, 2017, with a possibility of participating in a journal special
issue on this topic. All conference presenters are also invited to attend
the Platform Employment Forum on July 16, 2017, featuring presentations
from and interactions with China-based leading platform companies such as
Alibaba, Didi, and WUBA. For inquiries please contact Mingwei Liu (
[log in to unmask]).

*References *

Davis, G. F. 2016. *The vanishing American corporation: Navigating the
hazards of a new economy.* Ann Arbor, MI: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Degryse, C. 2016. Digitalization of the economy and its impact on labor
markets, Working paper 2016.02, Brussels, ETUI.

Huws, U. 2013. Working online, living offline: labor in the Internet age, *Work
organization, labor and globalization*, 7 (1), 1-11.

Rochet, J.-C., & Tirole, J. 2003. Platform competition in two-sided
markets. *Journal of the European Economic Association*, 1(4), 990-1029.

Sundararajan, A. 2016. *The Platform economy: The End of Employment and the
Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism*. Boston, MA: The MIT Press.

Valenduc, G & Vendramin, P. 2016. Work in the digital economy: sorting the
old from the new. Working paper 2016.03, Brussels, ETUI.

Zhu, F., & Iansiti, M. 2012. Entry into platform-based markets. *Strategic
Management Journal*, 33(1), 88-106.


Mingwei Liu
Associate Professor and Ph.D. Co-Director
School of Management and Labor Relations
Rutgers University
Director, Rutgers-Renmin Center for Global Work and Employemnt
50 Labor Center Way, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901
Phone: 848-932-6540
Fax: 732-932-8677

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