Corporate Social Responsibility in the Digital Era: A Worker-centered Perspective on the Gig Economy in China

Lin Shen

Student thesis: Master thesis


With the rapid development of the gig economy and increasingly more gig workers in China, many relevant issues emerged from a worker-centered perspective. By conducting qualitative research, this paper intends to analyze the key issues related to gig workers on the major gig economy platforms in China, how different actors have responded to such issues and the lessons learned. A multiple case study approach is adopted, involving two online food delivery platforms (Meituan Waimai, Eleme) and one online ride-hailing platform (Didi). The analysis in this study is conducted through two main dimensions: the intrinsic issues of the Chinese gig economy platforms, and the defects perceived by gig workers themselves. Through a combination of primary and secondary data, this paper comprehensively shows the differences and similarities of the Chinese online food delivery and ride-hailing industries from a worker-centered perspective, and reveals that the majority of relevant issues fall within the domain of basic work conditions. By way of conclusion, the power of other intervention actors in the gig economy is emphasized, especially the media and the central government; it is also suggested that the gig economy platforms are supposed to adopt more humanistic technology-driven mechanisms, diversify their major business models, and revisit the paradigms for their CSR evaluation in this digital era.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture - Business and Development Studies, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages99
SupervisorsXiao Xiao