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Title:Is technology eating the temporary staffing industry? An analysis of Upwork
Author(s):Brumm, Francesca
Advisor(s):Weaver, Andrew
Department / Program:School of Labor & Empl. Rel.
Discipline:Human Res & Industrial Rels
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Gig economy
Web platform
Online work
Alternative work
Abstract:The rise of web-based work platforms such as Uber has sparked speculation about the potential of these platforms to revolutionize the labor market. This speculation has rarely been accompanied by a data-based explanation of the competitive advantages of web-based work platforms or the mechanisms by which they may impact the labor market. We sought to provide such an explanation by comparing a web-based work platform, Upwork, to the traditional labor market intermediary it best resembles, a temporary staffing agency. We hypothesized that the two would be different and chose to compare them based on three characteristics: composition, wages and revenue, and efficiency. Using data collected from Upwork’s website and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we found significant differences in all three characteristics. We analyzed the differences we found for evidence that they provided Upwork with a competitive advantage over traditional temporary staffing agencies. We also asked whether the differences we found indicated how web-based work platforms might impact the labor market as a whole. We concluded that Upwork in its current form is more of an expansion of the temporary staffing industry than a revolutionary force because it allows workers and clients to make contracts that cannot efficiently be made elsewhere. We also suggested avenues for further research.
Issue Date:2017-04-26
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Francesca Brumm
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05

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