Comparative Institutional Analysis and Gigwork-Platforms

Universität Hamburg/Technische Universität Berlin


Work tasks performed on gigwork platforms constitute one of the most salient and controversial aspects of the digitalization of working worlds. Gigwork platforms provide services locally by connecting service providers and consumers and organizing the relevant transactions. Examples for this kind of platforms are companies in the area of food-delivery, like Foodora and Deliveroo, transportation, like Uber and Lyft, and lodging, like AirBnB. Gigwork is often discussed as a uniform phenomenon across countries; platforms are regarded as disruptive forces that are profoundly shaping global working worlds.

However, platforms differ considerably from country to country: The working conditions of “riders” (food couriers on bicycles) are often very precarious, but not always; Uber is prevented from establishing a foothold in Germany but is thriving in other countries; labor connected with lodging has not been researched comparatively at all so far.

Research question

This project starts with the assumption that there are different varieties of capitalism, e.g. different types of economic regimes that developed in different countries, shaped by different national institutional frameworks. This perspective raises mainly three questions in connection with the new modes of organizing and working embodied by gigwork platforms:

1. Whether and how different institutional frameworks interrelate with the form, size, success or failure of gigwork platforms in different countries, 2. Whether it is possible to identify patterns of interrelations and 3. What kind of mechanisms moderate the relation between institutional frameworks and platform organizations.


With this project, we approach these questions from two perspectives and assume that the combination of a diachronous and synchronous comparative perspective will be especially fruitful. The first subproject aims at a broad international comparison. The team will assemble a dataset on relevant features of the institutional frameworks and information on gigwork platforms in 28 European countries and examine this dataset with the help of cluster analysis.

The team of the second subproject takes a case study approach to investigate the development of gigwork platforms in five European countries. These in-depth studies will follow a process-tracing design.

Logo TU Berlin
Uni Hamburg
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Beyer
Project lead

Universität Hamburg

+49 40 - 42838-3229
Katharina Legantke
Research Associate

Universität Hamburg

Prof. Dr. Stefan Kirchner
Project lead

Technische Universität Berlin

Dr. Dzifa Ametowobla
Research Associate

Technische Universität Berlin

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