MAY 7, 2024 | Inclusive Technology & Innovation
Algorithms at Work: The Management of Gig Work in Sri Lanka

A new publication by CSF explores the proliferation of algorithms in platform-based gig work, and draws on field research from Sri Lanka on implications for gig workers in the delivery and ride-hailing occupations. The publication titled, ‘Algorithms at Work: The Management of Gig Work in Sri Lanka’ by Anisha Gooneratne, is part of CSF’s thematic pillar on Inclusive Technology and Innovation.

With the proliferation of the platform economy, the use of algorithms to automatically manage, organise, coordinate and evaluate workers has become a key feature of digital labour platforms. Whilst gig work is often presented as being flexible and allowing greater freedom for workers than traditional employment, this is often at odds with the control that the algorithm extends to managing work. Previous work conducted by CSF for an international organisation on the expansion of platform-based gig work in Sri Lanka has also highlighted power asymmetries that exist on these platforms, much of it rooted in the management of work through algorithms. The algorithm extends its control over gig work in a range of ways including continuous tracking of driver behaviour, opaque performance evaluation and incentive structures, passenger-driver assignment, dynamic pricing and remuneration and automatic implementation of decisions. This has led to drivers employing different techniques to guess what the algorithm expects of them, in order to maximise income earned through the platform. This research brief builds on ongoing research, exploring  the algorithmic management of work in Sri Lanka and its implications for gig workers.

Click here to download the Research Brief.

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