Risks and Risk-Mitigation Strategies of Gig Economy Workers in the Global South: The Case of Ride-Hailing in Cape Town

Tatenda Mpofu, Pitso Tsibolane, Richard Heeks, Jean-Paul Van Belle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

Fast growth of the gig economy in the global South has brought with it both hopes and concerns about this new form of digitally-enabled employment. Relatively little work has so far looked at the risks of such work; risks shaped by the particular context of developing countries. This paper undertakes an inductive, interpretive study of risks endured and risk-mitigation strategies adopted by ride-hailing drivers in Cape Town, South Africa, drawing from the perspective of ride-hailing drivers working for Uber and Bolt in Cape Town. A thematic analysis of eighteen (n = 18) semi-structured interview data shows three main perceived risks; inadequate income, personal safety, and deactivation from the platform. The severity of these risks means most drivers seek to mitigate them and we identify three types of mitigation strategy; initiated by the platforms (e.g. panic buttons), by the drivers individually (e.g. techniques for handling risky riders or locations), or by driver groups (e.g. rotating savings schemes). Platform design and business decisions mean it is individual workers who bear the majority of risks and individual workers who have to take responsibility for the majority of risk-mitigation strategies. Based on these new insights into digitally-enabled work, we suggest some directions for improved risk mitigation and for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInformation and Communication Technologies for Development
PublisherSpringer Nature
Pages26-38
Number of pages13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute

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