Digital platforms are supraorganizational entities that use digital technology to facilitate interactions between diverse actors, leading to novel forms of organisation and accompanying forms of control. The current Information Systems (IS) literature, however, struggles to describe control on digital platforms in a way that does justice to the dynamic character of the phenomenon. Taking this as an opportunity, we follow the enactment of control over time and across parties in a hybrid ethnographic study of the social commerce platform Poshmark. Specifically, we conceptualise the dynamics of control as changes in the means of control—formal or informal—and the sources of control—operator or participants—over time. Tracking these conceptual dimensions, we identify the distinct ways control has changed on Poshmark. Synthesising these findings into four dynamics of control, we show that control on digital platforms is rarely static due to aggregate effects arising from the operator and from participant interactions with each other through the digital features deployed on the platform. Based on these insights, our study contributes to the IS literature on control by broadening the conception of control on digital platforms. The theoretical and practical insights generated in this paper thereby lay the foundation for the systematic study of the dynamics of control that are unique to platform environments.
Bibliographical notePublished online: 20 January 2023.
- Digital platforms
- Means of control
- Platform work
- Sources of control