The Fairwork Project at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford is seeking a research partner to conduct the Fairwork assessment of digital labour platforms in India and continue our established research in this country. Partners need to be based in the country of study. Towards building a sustainable and fair future of work 2022-2023!
India Collaborative Research Team
This document is intended to inform potential interested parties about what to expect if they take on the role of being a Fairwork research partner in India. It details key arrangements we would put in place to facilitate the partnership, the main steps involved in Fairwork research and conducting an annual Fairwork scoring round, what’s involved in formalising a partnership, and the information we seek from potential partners to help us in our partner selection process. This is a call for proposals for funded partnerships with Fairwork, which works to ensure decent work standards for workers on digital platforms. Proposals must be submitted by 13 December 2022 via email to email@example.com.
‘Fair Work in the Platform Economy: A Global South Perspective’ is an action research project funded by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit). The project is co-ordinated Professor Mark Graham at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, with key coordinating partners including Professor Martin Krzywdzinski at the WZB: Berlin Social Science Center and Professor Richard Heeks at the Centre for Development Informatics, University of Manchester.
Fairwork’s main focus is rating digital labour platforms – mainly but not exclusively in the ride-hailing, delivery and domestic work sectors – according to five decent work principles: fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management, and fair representation. Evidence is gathered from the platforms themselves and from worker interviews, with each platform being awarded a score between 0 and 10 (see examples here).
Fairwork’s action research approach intends not just to understand the platform economy across the world, but to change it. By bringing workers, platforms, scholars, labour researchers and policymakers to the table, we work to collaboratively develop and embed principles of fair work into the script of the platform economy. Fundamental to the project is a commitment to being participatory in our research and non-hierarchical within our communities. Our aim is to understand, and counter, some of the forces that disempower platform workers across the world. We are a transnational network of social justice-minded scholars in pursuit of this planetary goal.
Launched in 2018, the project has so-far produced ratings for more than 200 digital labour platforms (both geographically tethered, and cloudwork), and currently operates in 38 countries on five continents.
Fairwork, at its essence, is a way of imagining a different, and fairer, platform economy than the one we have today. By evaluating platforms against measures of fairness, we hope to not just show what the platform economy is, but also what it can be.
- Research partners are expected to conduct research following Fairwork methodology into geographically-tethered platforms in India.
- Close collaboration is expected between country teams and Fairwork central team,
based at the Oxford Internet Institute and WZB: Berlin Social Science Center.
- Project duration will be 1 January 2023 – 31 August 2023, with no possibility of further extensions for this scoring round.
- Maximum Budget: India total GBP £49,600.
Deliverables and Performance Measures
We expect research partners to conduct the following as part of the Fairwork Activities in a scoring round:
1. Fieldwork Phase I
- Landscape analysis
- Stakeholder workshop
- Desk Research on the general ecosystem of platform economy
- Worker and platform interviews
- Identifying and reaching out to organisations identified for the Fairwork Pledge
2. Fieldwork Phase II
- Worker and platform interviews for all selected platforms.
- Translation and transcription of interviews, as needed.
- Data analysis and initial scoring round, including peer-review.
- Following up with platforms as needed.
- Engaging in the debates on platform work in the country, in media, academic, policy and other outlets.
3. Write up and Dissemination of Report
- Dissemination of results to local stakeholders with co-development of strategic action plans for platforms, workers and government to improve platform work standards.
- Dissemination of results to Fairwork community through attendance at a special workshop, and to international research forums including attendance at an international conference.
- Development of a peer-reviewed research publication.
- Working with the central Fairwork team on multi-media outputs from the project.
4. Reaching out to a minimum of 100 organisations for the Fairwork Pledge
5. Leadership on one finished academic paper
Please note that all activities are undertaken with members of the Fairwork project team. All regional teams have regular update meetings with the Fairwork Project lead.
- A track record of work and/or research related to worker rights in the platform economy.
- A demonstrated track record scoring/assessing companies/organisations against objective criteria, and triangulating data from multiple sources (workers, unions,
companies, etc.) in order to produce those scores.
- A demonstrated concern for and motivation to act on labour rights, working conditions, and/or social/economic justice.
- A capacity to undertake: (1) large-scale qualitative field research, (b) negotiation/advocacy with platforms, (c) negotiation/advocacy with government, and (d) negotiation/advocacy with other digital economy stakeholders within India.
- Operational independence as a research unit, and no obvious conflicts of interest that would undermine any of the four points above.
- Proven research record in areas similar to: the digital economy, the platform economy, working conditions, ethical consumption and similar.
- Demonstrable research team to support large scale local data collection, including
across cities/states as needed.
- Proven record of completing similar large research project (as listed in specifications)
on time and within budget.
- Regionally situated team to access local resources and overcome potential language
- Evidence of working as part of a larger network of researchers.
- Proven record of leading in collaborative publications in high-ranking journals and
Please provide the following information in your application pack:
- A cover letter showing how you meet the Selection Criteria and indicating your
- A brief research proposal about how you are planning to conduct the research and
identifying the platforms you would like to conduct research on.
- Please also include a brief plan about the specific roles of the research team.
- CVs of all members of the research team.
- A financial proposal in GBP not exceeding the amount listed in the Call, with clear Justification of Resources.
- A clear time plan for the research project, showing how and when the project deliverables will be met.
- A statement confirming the following: “This proposal is based on the University’s
standard terms and conditions of purchase.” (available here).