Understanding the careers of freelancers on digital labor platforms: The case of IT work

Feb 7th, 2024 | By | Category: RSS Feed


Online freelancing, an alternative form of work where independent workers offer services on digital labor platforms, gains increasing importance in IS research. While the general understanding of this form of work is growing, research lacks understanding careers on digital labor platforms. However, these differ from careers in offline labor markets due to volatility, global matching and platform mediation, the digital and temporary nature of work, and algorithmic management as particular platform working conditions. Therefore, to understand how working conditions on digital labor platforms influence the dynamic career paths of freelancers, we conduct an exploratory analysis using 35 interviews with freelancers and clients on digital labor platforms. We thus contribute to the body of knowledge on alternative forms of work on digital labor platforms by developing a long-term freelancing career model and outlining the dynamics of advancement, decline, and exit within platform careers. We also illustrate mechanisms between career phases in terms of platform lock-in effects, which arise from the career advancement dynamics and career exit dynamics.


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