Outsourced or Outforced? : A study on multi-sided food delivery platforms in the gig economy: the business actor perspective.
Abstract: The growth of the gig economy has resulted in an increased interest in the relatively new phenomenon of multi-sided digital platforms. Previous research has naturally been focused on one of the key actors on these platforms, namely the gig workers, and how the gig economy has affected the labor market. However, multi-sided platforms entails complex dynamics and relationships between several actors, and the purpose of this study is to investigate what drives a business actor to join a multi-sided platform, what conditions it entails, as well as how it affects their business. To fulfill the purpose, a qualitative research design was conducted, in which semi-structured interviews with seven business actor representatives were included. Through theoretical perspectives on outsourcing, network externalities, and relationship management, this study is able to suggest that to handle the complexity, multi-sided platforms entail a certain degree of standardization that leads to increased transparency in the food delivery industry. In order to access the positive network effects that come from joining the platform, the business actors must adapt to the standardized conditions. Furthermore, they can differentiate to adapt or accept a change towards becoming commodity producers. The study indicates that there is a discrepancy between reality and theory on who outsources to whom when it comes to understanding a multi-sided platform in the gig economy.
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