How Gig Economy Workers Cope With Job Ambiguity

About this project

Project description

This project will examine how workers in the gig economy negotiate the job ambiguities and complexities in their context.
Digital platforms like Uber or Upwork are altering work relationships all over the world. Collectively called the gig economy where freelancers or temporary work contracts dominate, it employs around 1.1 billion people. Called by various terms like app work, gig work, click work and others, the gig workers are in a grey zone – they are not formally employed, registered as individual contractors, paid through digital banking channels and with minimal or no safety net.
Gig workers have different sets of relationships compared to most other workplaces. An algorithm assigns the jobs or work contracts, and the manager has a limited role to play in the assessment. Workers do not interact with the human beings at the platforms frequently compared to the algorithms. Workers interact with different sets of people – clients who are serviced directly (Uber commuters), people at firms or enterprises whose products are transferred (restaurants in Zomato), end customers (those who are ordering food in Zomato or spa for pets in Urban Company), and fellow workers.
In algorithm mediated work, the relationship between employer and employee is weak or non-existent, which can result in ambiguity for the employees. For example, they must navigate disputes and problems without the assistance of a direct supervisor. This could be a breach of psychological contract with the organisation and disillusionment with the work relationship initially envisioned. In this context, how do workers manage the job ambiguities and everyday work complexities? The proposed project aims to offer insights into this issue.
The project shall use a mixed method approach – qualitative interviews with gig economy actors, content analysis of policy documents, and quantitative survey with workers. The field sites shall be India and Australia.


Support policy makers to strengthen the regulatory ecosystem for the gig economy.
Help digital platforms to emulate sustainable worker enrichment environments.
Offer insights to researchers working on worker well being and workplace interactions.
Publication of findings in high quality journals and present in peer reviewed conferences.

Information for applicants

Essential capabilities

High levels of proficiency in English (reading and writing)

Desireable capabilities

Knowledge in qualitative and quantitative research methods, prior research experience

Expected qualifications (Course/Degrees etc.)

Undergraduate or Masters degree in social science fields, completion of research methods courses

Additional information for applicants

note: i-students must have own scholarship to apply (CSIR, UCG-NET, etc)

Project supervisors

Principal supervisors

UQ Supervisor

Dr Daisung Jang

UQ Business School
IITD Supervisor

Professor Vigneswara Ilavarasan

Department of Management Studies