In this essay, we address the question of how the strategic and organizational activities of on-demand sharing economy companies such as Uber are labeled and classified. We approach this question through a categorization lens and explore in particular whether sharing economy companies can legitimately frame the individuals who work for them as “independent workers” and what this implies for the nature of the employment relationship in such on-demand business models. Our overall aim in doing this is twofold. First, we highlight and address an important categorization issue in our current society, which has potentially far-reaching consequences for the nature of employment and the securities and protections that workers used to enjoy in many parts of the world. Second, we advance prior research in the strategy and organizational domain by elaborating how acts of categorization are inherently moral and political in nature. In this way, we aim to provoke researchers toward studying the moral basis of categorization work and we provide pointers in this essay for how they might do so.

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Keywords business ethics, category work, gig economy, policy, politics, topics and perspectives
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Journal Strategic Organization
Cornelissen, J.P, & Cholakova, M.N. (2019). Profits Uber everything? The gig economy and the morality of category work. Strategic Organization. doi:10.1177/1476127019894506