When Gig Workers Become Essential: Leveraging Customer Moral Self-Awareness Beyond COVID-19

Business Horizons 66 (2):181-190 (2022)
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The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the extent to which economies in the developed and developing world rely on gig workers to perform essential tasks such as health care, personal transport, food and package delivery, and ad hoc tasking services. As a result, workers who provide such services are no longer perceived as mere low-skilled laborers, but as essential workers who fulfill a crucial role in society. The newly elevated moral and economic status of these workers increases consumer demand for corporate social responsibility regarding this stakeholder group – specifically for practices that increase worker freedom and rewards. We provide algorithmic tools for online labor platforms to meet this demand, thereby bolstering their social purpose and ethical branding while better protecting themselves from future reputational crises. To do so, we advance a managerial strategy rooted in moral self-awareness theory in order to leverage customers’ virtuous self-perception and increase gig-worker freedom.

Author's Profile

Julian Friedland
Metropolitan State University of Denver


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