Gig Worker Response to Algorithmic and Other Management Practices in India: A Study of Drivers from Ride-Hailing Platforms

Ipshita Chakraborty & Richard Heeks


The body of research on gig workers, their lived experiences and their strategies to adapt to gig work has grown steadily in the past decade. However, few studies provide depth and detail on ways in which the social, cultural, political, and economic context within which gig platforms operate impacts the experiences, perceptions and reactions of workers, with particular lacunae around experiences of workers in the global South. We take an exploratory and analytical approach to examine the lived experiences of workers and the role of such contextual factors in India’s ride-hailing sector. Deriving an initial conceptual framework from existing literature, we draw upon both primary and secondary data to refine it further through the identification of additional constructs and overarching factors that shape driver experiences.

We find that an extended ecosystem view of the gig economy and socio-economic parameters such as the Indian labour market are crucial overarching contextual factors that influence management processes as well as worker experiences. In addition, driver tenure and socio-economic background as well as evolution of their psychological contract with the platform organisation over time are some of the constructs that have a profound impact on their lived experiences. We use our results and analysis to provide a future research agenda for those studying the gig economy with the aim of promoting rich, multi-perspective, cross-cutting studies that can account for the heterogeneous socio-economic and cultural environment within which gig economies operate. Our findings are also essential for policymakers, regulatory bodies, governments, and the gig organisations themselves to ensure that they collaboratively make the right choices for the growth of a sustainable gig economy that provides value for communities, workers, clients, and users along with the platform organizations.

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