9.6 Gigs of their own: Can Platform Cooperatives of Gig Workers Become Resilient?

Aim of the project: To provide insight into the viability and (dis)advantages of platform cooperatives as one institutional approach for organising decent work in gig economy.

Project info

In his PhD project, Damion investigates the challenges that gig workers face when organising themselves in a cooperative enterprise. In particular, he aims to provide insight into the viability and (dis)advantages of platform cooperatives as one institutional approach for organising decent work in the gig economy by analysing the conditions under which cooperatives of gig workers can become resilient. The project addresses questions on enterprise formation, member commitment, democratic governance, and coordination of collective resources. Damion takes a multi-disciplinary and multi-method approach, combining theory from sociology and institutional economics with interview, survey, and text analysis research. Just as economists have long wondered why firms are usually controlled by capital suppliers instead of by labour suppliers, this research project addresses the puzzle of why platforms are not more commonly owned and governed by workers.
Project start
End date
Behavioral theory
  • Goals
  • Networks
Erasmus University
University of Amsterdam
Erasmus University
  • co-operative development
  • gig economy
  • Platform cooperativism
  • Social dilemma
  • Economics
  • Employers’ organizations
  • Governmental policymakers
  • Organisation science
  • Platforms
  • Sociology
  • Trade unions
Work package
  • Work
Sustainability threat
  • Feedback Cycles
  • Reconciling stakeholder interests
Theoretical background
Based on the SICADE framework (De Moor, 2021), the dissertation addresses the challenges in starting a platform cooperative (Chapters 2-3), maintaining member commitment (Chapter 4), facilitating member participation in collective decision-making (Chapter 5), and protecting collective resources from member opportunism (Chapter 6).
Research design
Looking at the larger literature on worker cooperatives and labour-managed firms, there can be two reasons why platform cooperatives are rare: lower market entry or higher market exit rates. Chapters 2 and 3 investigate the challenges in starting platform cooperatives and how founders deal with them. In Chapter 2, a feasibility analysis is made on active and failed platform cooperatives across gig economy sectors in Europe and North-America. Chapter 3 employs business biography interviews with founders of platform cooperatives in Europe to analyse why they emerge amidst various other efforts to achieve decent work in the gig economy and how founders manage to balance competing demands during formation. The remaining three chapters focus on challenges for platform cooperatives that might induce failure if not addressed. Chapter 4 examines the challenge of maintaining organisational commitment given preference heterogeneity and social isolation among gig workers. It gathers and analyses unique survey data on the members of four Italian platform cooperatives in the cultural, education and ICT sectors. Chapter 5 addresses the challenge of equal participation in decision-making processes by worker-members. Using the same survey data as in Chapter 4, patterns of member participation in decision-making are analysed. Finally, Chapter 6 analyses the challenge of efficiently coordinating productive and shirking behaviour of worker-members under varying economic circumstances. Exactly what and how rules are used to curb member opportunism by a gig workers' cooperative is studied through content analysis on its bylaws and other regulatory documents. Analysis is supported by the institutional grammar approach.
Related sources


Grant ID