Digital Labourers’ Proactivity and the Venture for Meaningful Work: Fruitful or Fruitless?

Sut I. Wong*, Christian Fieseler, Dominique Kost

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Digital Labor, taking up flexible but small-scale employment arrangements on online intermediary platforms, with few constraints on how much, when, and where work is performed, are becoming the new work reality for many individuals. Scholars have argued that this type of work is inherently demeaning. We seek to explore the worker’s perspective and how their long-term perspective aligns or misaligns with their actual work arrangement. We draw on career construction theory and hypothesize a job–career congruence model suggesting that when workers’ cognitive presentations of their microwork as jobs or careers are incongruent, they are less likely to experience their work as meaningful. The results from a two-stage field study of 803 workers from two microworking platforms support the negative effect of an incongruent job–career schema on workers’ experience of meaningful work. Additionally, results demonstrate that even workers who are proactive in nature, seem unable to excel in these fluid work settings when their job-career schema are not aligned. Practitioner Points: Contrary to what platform organizations may expect, digital labourers view crowdworking as both a job and a career, which in turn fosters meaningfulness. Careers are important aspect in understanding digital labourers’ understanding of their jobs and careers. Keeping this in mind, we would encourage platform organizations to: provide career development opportunities, instead of focusing on short-term incentives. This would cultivate crowdworkers’ career outlook, cultivate job–career congruence, and help mediate issues related to lack of career prosperity in microwork design. recognize aspirational career elements, such as career ladders, employability, and work–life balance to reduce possible exploitation in this employment area. Focusing only on job features such as flexibility, autonomy, and rewards is insufficient to motivate and inspire meaningfulness among digital labourers. provide training focused on career adaptability. This may attract relevant talent and platforms may benefit from providing training opportunities in the long term.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Volume93
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)887-911
Number of pages25
ISSN0963-1798
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

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