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The University of Southampton
Web Science Institute

Digital Workplace for Innovation and Participation (DigiWIP)


Online marketplaces have dramatically increased in importance with the rise of platforms such as Amazon Mechanical Turk, Clickwork, and Upwork. Existing research points at the risk of reproducing social inequality and exploitation of ‘traditional’ labour markets on those platforms. This project adds to existing knowledge of online platforms and crowd work through investigating links with innovation and collaboration. The key objective is to reveal new ways of working and collaborating between enterprises and individuals, to encourage innovation and participation building towards a new vision for ‘Factories of the Future’. How can digital platforms of work drive societal and economic benefits that would allow skilled workers and investors to exchange ideas, develop opportunities and innovative products, creating both wealth and greater individual and social satisfaction? A systematic literature review is used to identify theories and empirical evidence on how work-related and business networks evolve in online spaces versus physical spaces; the content, structure and strategic management of networks that are most beneficial in terms of social impact, innovation and co-creation; their potentially negative effect on wealth distribution and competition; and what we can learn from related platforms, such as open source, about innovation and collaboration for understanding online job marketplaces. The empirical work comprises focus group discussions and interviews with (1) freelancers working in digital marketplaces, (2) academic and business experts, and (3) policymakers. Conclusions will be drawn about co-creation in online marketplaces, business and financial models of online platforms and their social impact and policy implications.


Principal Investigator: Dr Darja Reuschke, Geography and Environment

Co-Investigator: Paul Walland, IT Innovation Centre

Co-Investigator: Dr Pelin Demirel, Southampton Business School

Co-Investigator: Dr Brian Pickering, IT Innovation Centre


View the report.

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