Making the most for professional freelancers : A study of platforms in the gig economy
Abstract: Purpose - The purpose of this study was to understand how platform providers can develop their offerings and gig platforms depending on the targeted professional freelancers, henceforth referred to just as freelancers. To fulfil the purpose, three research questions (RQ) were developed: RQ1. How do freelancers’ level of experience influence what is important for their work life? RQ2. How do freelancers’ level of experience influence what they want help with from a gig platform? RQ3. How can platform providers create a satisfying gig platform? Method - A qualitative, explorative approach was used and both freelancers and platform providers in Sweden were interviewed. In total were 23 interviews conducted in three different phases and the data collected was then analysed through two thematic analysis. Findings - The finding showed that new and experienced freelancers found similar things as important for their work life; monetary compensation, freedom, feeling authentic, self-development, social connection, decreasing uncertainty, relationship with the requesting organization (RO), necessary competence and finding new gigs. Experienced freelancers also found it important to scale up their freelancing career. Even though both groups almost found the same categories of aspects important, but their view on them differed. Experienced freelancers had higher expectations and had already accomplished most of them, while the new ones wished to accomplish it in the future. The new freelancers therefore showed a greater interest in gig platforms and wanted more help from platform providers. What new and experienced freelancers wanted help with, and how platform providers can accomplish it, was illustrated and a framework for strategic aspects which platform providers should consider in order to create a satisfying gig platform was developed. Theoretical and Practical Contribution - The study contributed to the previous literature by highlighting that different groups of freelancers, new and experienced ones, have different views and expectations on things they find important, as well as what they want help with. Additionally, guidance for platform providers on how to create a satisfying gig platform was provided. Limitation and Future Research - This study was limited to Sweden, and it could be of interest to investigate if there are similarities or differences among different countries. It could also be interesting to investigate if the gender of the freelancers’ niche influences their needs.
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