Paul Frederic Sela

Started for the Call, Continued for the Job: The Effect of Personal Contact in Online Labor Platform Onboarding on Worker Activity and Performance

Tuesday, 14. May 2024 - 12:30 to 13:30, Leo 18

Speaker: Dr. Mark Boons

Abstract: Online labor platforms are becoming increasingly important in fulfilling temporary, short-term jobs. In order to do so, these platforms depend on the continuous activity of gig workers registered on their platform. However, compared to more traditional work arrangements, gig workers often put in lower effort and have higher turnover rates. This might, in part, be due to the fact that workers’ interactions with online labor platforms are largely algorithm-mediated. In this paper, we empirically test this proposition as it pertains to the worker onboarding process. We exploit a natural experiment that occurred on a Dutch online labor platform to examine the impact of personal contact during the onboarding process. We find that gig workers who were called by a platform representative in the onboarding process applied to more jobs, worked more, earned more, and stayed active longer compared to non-called workers. Additional analyses suggest that this is likely due to increased gig worker engagement with the platform.

Short Bio: Mark Boons received his Ph.D. degree in Management from Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 2014. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the KIN Center for Digital Innovation, School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His research explores how individuals contribute to tasks hosted on digital platforms in a variety of settings, including crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, and gig work platforms. His work has appeared in several academic journals, including the Journal of Management Studies and Research Policy.