Online platform expert Martijn Arets researches upon the ways in which reputation scores may be used sustainably within the gig economy and how their continuity can be guaranteed on these platforms. This research is backed by a multi-faceted group of partners, which is considered especially relevant at this point. According to Arets “Platforms play a growing role in the economy and offer opportunities to people who would have had more difficulties finding a job elsewhere. These contractors are becoming increasingly dependent on reputation scores. Now, the impact of a degree is next to nil, whereas the impact of reputation is souring.”

The market for platforms within the gig economy is expanding and taking on an ever more distinctive position in its matching of supply and demand of labor. “This unique position is generally found in the fact that platforms are inclusive mediators that, unlike recruiters which select with bias and based on culture, offer equal chances to everyone. Platforms hence create opportunities for people with difficulty getting hired elsewhere”, states Martijn Arets.

With the growth of this specific added value of platforms, concerns about the functioning of systems and how to improve these are becoming more important. One of the most interesting questions associated with this is the role of reputation scores. Especially, as recent research has noted that the impact of reputation scores is a decisive factor for contractors while obtaining new gigs.

Arets research hits towards this point questioning how reputation scores may contribute to more empowerment for the workers. As Arets explains, “We’re trying to answer three questions. First, we’re looking at how platforms may guarantee that their scores measure what they are intended to measure. Secondly, we’re researching how data could be made portable. The central question here is how we could organize an environment where people could transfer their scores to another platform. Finally, we’re researching how the continuity of data can be guaranteed, for example, in the case a platform goes bankrupt.”

In particular, Arets is excited about the various and strong group of partners committing to this research: “We’re consciously choosing cooperation with partners from the field. We’ve managed to gather a strong multi-faceted set of partners that wouldn’t normally work together that often.” As Marije Ottenvanger, spokesperson of the FNV (the largest trade union in the Netherlands), elaborates on her choice to support this research, “It is important to the FNV that workers can manage their reputation data themselves. They are putting a lot of effort in getting and keeping good scores. That is why we are committed to think along; to see technological progress transparently and honestly unfolding for every stakeholder, especially for the workers themselves.”

Part of the enthusiasm among the partners is additionally due to the practical approach of this research recognizes Arets. “There is a whole lot of fuss about the portability of data, but there is hardly any research available. We are looking to give support to those on the ground. We are supporting the platform sector in maturing further and developing its unique position in the matching process of supply and demand on the flexible labor market. Moreover, we’re contributing to a stronger position of the contractors operating in the gig economy.”

Background information

International platform expert Martijn Arets has been exploring the rise of the platform economy and its impact on society since 2012. For this research he will be working hand in hand with renowned scientist and the following partners: UWV, YoungOnes, Seats2Meet.com, FNV, Freshheads, and Etui. The research is scheduled from April, 2020 until April, 2021. More information can be found on www.kluspaspoort.nl.