The Future of Work and Labor

Digital Technologies, Innovation, and Skills: Emerging Trajectories and Challenges

Tommaso Ciarli
Martin Kenney
Silvia Massini
Lucia Piscitello
2021

In order to better understand the complex and dialectical relationships between digital technologies, innovation, and skills, it is necessary to improve our understanding of the coevolution between the trajectories of connected digital technologies, firm innovation routines, and skills formation. This is critical as organizations recombine and adapt digital technologies; they require new skills to innovate, learn, and adapt to evolving digital technologies, while digital technologies change the codification of knowledge for productive and innovative activities. The coevolution...

Algorithms, Data, and Platforms: The Diverse Challenges of Governing AI

Mark J. Nitzberg
John Zysman
2021

Artificial Intelligence (AI) poses interwoven challenges. Defined as technology that uses advanced computation to perform at human cognitive capacity in some task area, AI must be regulated in the context of its broader toolbox - algorithms, data and platforms - and its regulation must be sector-specific. Establishing national and community priorities on how to reap AI’s benefits, while managing its social and economic risks, is an evolving debate. Digital Platform Firms are a fundamental driver of AI tools: they dominate the playing field and often pursue priorities outside the frames of...

Where Will Work Come from in the Era of the Cloud and Big Data?

John Zysman
Martin Kenney
2014

Will the digital revolution, and its current manifestation in Cloud computing and platform-based work, inexorably lead to the elimination of jobs and work due to automation. Are new opportunities for work opening? Should we be thinking in terms of conventional work or is value creation the key? Certainly, nearly all firms are experiencing intense competition leading to commoditization based principally upon price. In the first section of this paper, we explore the pathways opened as cloud computing, transforms the way both goods and services are innovated, produced, and distributed....

Measuring the impacts of labor in the platform economy: new work created, old work reorganized, and value creation reconfigured

Dafna Bearson
Martin Kenney
John Zysman
2019

Though economists have examined labor displacement due to digitization, few have considered the new work and value created. Unlike employment relations that brought workers together on the assembly line or in an office in a previous era, platforms enable a greater, more dispersed, and complex division of labor. New and reconfigured types of labor enabled by platforms create identification and measurement challenges. Previous studies of platforms invariably focused on specific organizational forms such as sharing or gigs. They built taxonomies based on the platform's organization –...

MyFitnessPal: How This Winner-Took-All by Helping People Lose

Emily Alonso
2015

Up until about 10 years ago, when a person thought of fitness, health or weight loss, they did not necessarily associate those things with technology. However, as the world takes on a new digital landscape, health care industries from weight-loss to hospitals are becoming increasingly digitized. The idea behind this digitization of the health/fitness industries is that people able to quantify their health will be more likely to improve it (MacManus). Thus with the utilization of big data, big people will begin to no longer be an “epidemic” in our society. Though this is wishful thinking,...

Innovative Clusters & New Work: A case study of TaskRabbit

Emily Isaac
2015

In the past five years, San Francisco has become home to dozens of new online and mobile “service networking” companies that claim to be “revolutionizing” the way work gets done. Making up what has come to be known as the “platform economy,” these technology companies provide the platforms for online and mobile marketplaces in which users can buy and sell their goods and services. Together, these “platform economy” companies make up a concentrated innovative cluster in the San Francisco Bay Area, and, more specifically, San Francisco proper.

One of the sharing economy’s pioneers and...

Cloud Computing: From Scarcity to Abundance

Kenji E. Kushida
Jonathan Murray
John Zysman
2015

Cloud computing is a revolution in computing architecture, transforming not only the "where" (location) of computing, but also the "how" (the manner in which software is produced and the tools available for the automation of business processes). Cloud computing emerged as we transitioned from an era in which underlying computing resources were both scarce and expensive to an era in which the same resources were cheap and abundant. There are many ways to implement cloud architectures, and most people are familiar with public cloud services such as Gmail or Facebook. However, much of the...

Digital Disruption and its Social Impacts

Martin Kenney
Petri Rouvinen
John Zysman
2015

Deepening digitalization and globalization has induced an ongoing societal transformation that may ultimately prove to be as significant as the original industrial revolution. Even as the ICT industry is being restructured, global competition is being transformed. Previously dominant firms—including telecommunications carriers, equipment providers, and powerful legacy software firms—are under assault from the move to cloud computing, in the network center, and mobile computing, on the network periphery. This transformation of the computing and communication infrastructure has been...

Work in the Digital Era: Choosing a Future

John Zysman
2015

This presentation is based in part on: Where will Work Come from in the Era of the Cloud and Big Data (Zysman and Kenney, 2015). It was prepared for the Future of Work, Open Society Foundation.

Click here to access the full presentation.

What is the Future of Work? Understanding the Platform Economy and Computation-Intensive Automation

Martin Kenney
John Zysman
2016

This note is intended to help set the groundwork for a discussion of cross-national variation in responses to the emergence of labor-market platforms (LMP). The politics and policy of the labor exchanges will unfold as part of the development of the platform economy. We consider in three steps: 1) The character of the rise of the Platform Economy in an era of computing abundance; 2) The diverse array of work arrangements that are in play; 3) Whether computation intensive automation will be an increasingly powerful force in labor politics in this era....