In this explainer, Alexandra Mateescu and Aiha Nguyen map the use of AI in workplace management in industries from the gig economy to domestic work and retail.

Explainer: Algorithmic Management in the Workplace

The team at Data & Society have long been on the case of algorithmic management – I still remember how excited I was reading the seminal 2017 paper on Uber’s control over drivers by Alex Rosenblat and Luke Stark. In this explainer, Alexandra Mateescu and Aiha Nguyen map the use of AI in workplace management in industries from the gig economy to domestic work and retail; identifying key challenges in four broad areas – surveillance and control, transparency, bias and discrimination, and accountability. 

Algorithmic management is a diverse set of technological tools and techniques to remotely manage workforces, relying on data collection and surveillance of workers to enable automated or semi-automated decision-making. Many of the characteristics of algorithmic management—such as consumer-sourced rating systems and automated “nudges” were developed by companies of the “sharing” or “gig” economy.

These practices have spurred debates over employee classification, as “gig” economy companies classify workers as independent contractors even as they use technology to exert control over their work forces.And algorithmic management is becoming more common in other work contexts beyond “gig” platforms. Within delivery and logistics, companies from UPS to Amazon to grocery chains are using automated systems to optimise delivery workers’ daily routes. Domestic workers and hotel housekeepers are increasingly remotely tracked and managed through software. In retail and service industries, automated scheduling is replacing managers’ discretion over employee schedules, while the work of evaluating employees is being transferred to consumer-sourced rating systems.

Download here

Chosen by

Jeremias Adams-Prassl

Theme

Algorithms at Work

Related files

Download here

Sign up to our Newsletter

 We would love to stay in touch.

Our newsletters and updates let you know what we’ve been up to, what’s in the pipeline, and give you the chance to sign up for our events.

 You can unsubscribe at anytime by clicking the link at the bottom of our emails or by emailing dataprotection@ifow.org. Read our full privacy policy including how your information will be stored by clicking the link below.