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Work in the Gig Economy

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Managerial Psychology


                                                                  WORK IN THE GIG ECONOMY

Paper submission deadline: 25 June 2018

Guest Editors:

Kristine M. Kuhn, Washington State University, USA

Tera Galloway, Illinois State University, USA

Although there is no official definition of the ‘gig economy’ and its size is difficult to assess, the apparent spread of gig-based work and its attendant implications for workers and society increasingly attracts attention from policy makers and the media (Pfeffer, 2015; Scheiber, 2017; Strom & Schmitt, 2016; Torpey & Horgan, 2016; Warner, 2015).  Here we define gigs as short-term projects or tasks for which workers are hired on demand. 

While some discussions of the gig economy include on-call employees and those hired via temporary agencies, most interest and debate centers on independent contractors and freelancers, particularly those hired via online labor platform intermediaries.  An estimated 20 to 30 percent of working-age adults in the United States and Europe perform some type of independent work (Manyika et al., 2016), either full-time or to supplement their income.  Gig workers include those in creative occupations such as musicians and craft artists, weekend Uber drivers, people who complete 5-minute surveys on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, and even airline pilots. 

To date the gig economy has attracted scholarly attention primarily from researchers in economics, information systems, sociology, and organizational theory (e.g.,Chen & Horton, 2017; Pallais, 2014; Stewart & Stanford, 2017). But psychologically-based research examining the implications of these work arrangements for both organizations and individuals has significant potential for novel scientific and practical contributions (Kuhn, 2016).

Consider that the status of many gig workers is somewhat ambiguous (Kuhn & Maleki, 2017).  One recent survey found that a substantial percentage of gig platform workers consider themselves to be employees of the platform they use (Smith, 2016), despite the fact that as independent contractors they have none of the labor protections and benefits that actual employees enjoy.  Although Uber does not officially manage its drivers, and advertises the ability to become an entrepreneur on the plaform with the freedom to decide when and where to work, the firm also actively uses behavioral-science based manipulations to influence driver behavior (Scheiber, 2017).  Other types of gig work allow individuals more control over their labor and compensation, and may be viewed as more clearly entrepreneurial.

For this special issue, we seek original quantitative and qualitative empirical research, as well as conceptual papers that advance theory and case studies grounded in rigorous scientific methods.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of topics and research questions that are representative of the aims and scope of this Special Issue.  We are open to a range of research questions and topics that explore different aspects of this complex and poorly understood phenomenon.

▪Applying management theory to gig work: How does the meaning of established management constructs and concepts (e.g., psychological contract theory, organizational support theory, organizational justice) change when applied to independent workers?  How should concepts such as turnover and worker satisfaction be assessed in the context of platform labor?

▪’The interplay between waged work and 'side hustles':  What motivates waged workers to take on additional gig work? How do their attitudes and experiences in their ‘regular job’ affect their decisions and attitudes regarding side hustles, and vice versa?  What are the implications for work-life balance when ‘work’ incorporates both set hours and discretionary gig work?  

▪ Managing and motivating independent workers: Some indicators suggest that more organizations are using freelancers for mission-critical tasks (Weber, 2016), implying that managers need to be especially concerned with their recruitment and satisfaction. What are the challenges involved in managing and integrating these skilled workers when they are not employees? For gig workers who are viewed as more or less interchangeable, what practices best benefit workers and firms?

▪Gig work from an entrepreneurship perspective:  What insights about gig work can be gained from considering workers as entrepreneurs rather as workers?  Do entrepreneurial orientation or other individual differences shape how gig workers manage their careers and their likelihood of success?

Submission Process and Timeline

To be considered for the Special Issue, manuscripts must be submitted no later than June 25, 2018, 5:00pm Pacific Standard Time. Submitted papers will undergo a double-blind peer review process and will be evaluated by at least two reviewers and a special issue editor. Acceptance decisions will be based on the review team’s judgments of the paper’s contribution on four key dimensions:

(1)    Theoretical contribution: Does the article meaningfully extend existing theory in the field of managerial psychology?
(2)    Empirical contribution: Does the article offer novel findings derived from appropriate study design and data analysis?

(3)    Practical contribution: Does the article present practical implications for improving management practice or for helping gig workers manage their own careers?

(4)    Relevance to the special issue topic.

Authors should prepare their manuscripts for blind review according to the Journal of Managerial Psychology author guidelines, available at Remove any information that could potentially reveal the identity of the authors to reviewers. Manuscripts should be submitted electronically at: For enquiries regarding the special issue, please contact Kristine Kuhn at [email protected]

Important dates

Paper submission deadline: 25 June 2018
Acceptance notification: December 2018
Publication: December 2018 (online first)


Chen, D. L., & Horton, J. J. (2016). Are online labor markets spot markets for tasks? A field experiment on the behavioral response to wage cuts. Information Systems Research, 27(2), 403-423.

Friedman, G. (2014). Workers without employers: shadow corporations and the rise of the gig economy. Review of Keynesian Economics, 2(2), 171-188.

Kuhn, K. M. (2016). The rise of the “gig economy” and implications for understanding work and workers. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 9(1), 157-162.

Kuhn, K. M., & Maleki, A. (2017). Micro-entrepreneurs, dependent contractors, and instaserfs: Understanding online labor platform workforces. The Academy of Management Perspectives, 31(3), 183-200.

Manyika, J., Lund, S., Bughin, J., Robinson, K., Mischke, J., & Mahajan, D. (2016). Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy. McKinsey Global Institute. October.

Pallais, A. (2014). Inefficient hiring in entry-level labor markets. The American Economic Review, 104(11), 3565-3599.

Pfeffer, J. (2015). The case against the ‘gig economy.’ Fortune.

Rosenblat, A. (2016). What motivates gig economy workers. Harvard Business Review.

Scheiber, Noam. "How Uber uses psychological tricks to push its drivers' buttons." The New York Times 2 (2017).

Smith, A. (2016). Gig work, online selling, and home sharing. Pew Research Center.…

Stewart, A., & Stanford, J. (2017). Regulating work in the gig economy: What are the options?. The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 28(3), 420-437.

Strom, S., & Schmitt, M. (2016). Protecting Workers in a Patchwork Economy. New York, NY: The Century Foundation.

Warner, M. R. (2015, June 18). Asking tough questions about the gig economy. Washington Post, p. B1.

Weber, L. (2016). Gig economy workers take on key tasks. Wall Street Journal.