Work and Value Creation in the Platform Economy


The emergence of the platform economy is reorganizing work, employment, and value creation. The authors argue that the digital platforms are fracturing work itself as the places and types of work are being reorganized into a myriad of platform organized work arrangements with workplaces being potentially anywhere with Internet connectivity. The authors differ from most traditional narratives that focus solely upon either work displacement, a single type of platform-organized value-creating activity, or David Weil’s concentration solely upon the workplace. The authors recognize that even as some work is replaced, other work is being transformed; new work and old work in new arrangements is being created and recreated. The taxonomy begins with the workers employed directly by the platform and its contractors. The authors then introduce the category, platform-mediated work, which we divide into three groups: marketplaces such as Amazon; in-person service provision such as Uber and Airbnb; and remote service provision such as Upwork. The next category, “platform-mediated content creation,” is complex. The authors identify three groups of activities: consignment content creators that include services such as the app stores, YouTube, and Amazon Self-Publishing; non-platform organization content producers, which refers to the enormous number of workers occupied with creating and maintaining websites; and user-generated content which is the non-compensated value creation that ranges from content uploaded to Facebook, Instagram, etc. to reviews on sites such as Yelp. It is only when work and value creation is considered in all of these platform-based manifestations that we can understand the ultimate dimensions of the platform economy and comprehensively understand its implications for work.

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Publication date: 
July 4, 2019
Publication type: 
Journal Article
Kenney, M. and Zysman, J. (2019), "Work and Value Creation in the Platform Economy", Vallas, S.P. and Kovalainen, A. (Ed.) Work and Labor in the Digital Age (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 33), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 13-41.