Two fully-funded PhD positions on platform work regulation (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 22 May 2022

Two fully-funded PhD positions at Utrecht University’s Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance on Platform work regulation:

'Towards responsive regulation of platform work’ (Governance);

'Platform work and collective bargaining in current Competition Law’ (Law).

With the growth of the platform economy platform work has also increased. This platform work increase has given rise to institutional tensions and incompatibility with existing laws, regulations and monitoring arrangements, including those covering labour, and competition. As part of a wider interdisciplinary project, the Faculty of Law, Governance and Economics is offering two fully-funded, four-year PhD-positions focusing on aspects of platform work regulation.

Project 1 ‘Towards responsive regulation of platform work’ is embedded within the School of Governance and investigates the public responses to platform work by analysing regulatory and enforcement strategies of various inspectorates regarding excessive working hours and discrimination, ownership of digital cv or public aspects, such as nuisance or traffic safety. How have local and national enforcement agencies approached platform companies in regulatory practice?

The project focuses on skills, competencies, tools and strategies of regulatory professionals at local and national inspectorates to respond to innovative forms of labour. The PhD candidate will use data collection, including an online review, case studies of enforcement policies, virtual ethnography, and interviews with regulatory professionals, platform companies, workers and their representatives. A living lab approach will be adopted to study emerging strategies and evaluate their effectiveness. The findings will be used to design a toolkit and teaching modules of smart enforcement in collaboration with regulatory professionals (Inspection Council). In addition, the PhD candidate will provide input for an experiment involving regulation-by-design.
Project 2 ‘Collective bargaining in current competition law’ is embedded primarily within the School of Law. This project starts from the status of platform workers as independent contractors and resulting in lack of insurance and pensions among them, impairing the social solidarity and sustainability of the (Dutch) social security system and giving rise to (possibly worrisome) forms of marketizing labour. The PhD candidate will focus on whether the current European competition law in relation to collective bargaining and cooperation is extendable to cover platform workers. The candidate will conduct an legal investigation into the current legal system’s basis, rules and applications, as well as a normative investigation into how the law should be shaped. For the latter, the PhD candidate will develop a normative framework based on moral/social values surrounding decent labour (relations), as well as the values emanating from the European constitutional context.

Host institute and team
The projects will be carried out in a collaborative setting. The project ‘Towards responsive regulation’ is a collaboration between Prof Judith van Erp and Dr Rianne Dekker (Utrecht University School of Governance), Dr Arnt Mein (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) and the PhD candidate. The PhD candidate will be employed at the Utrecht School of Governance in the research group Public Governance and Management and participate in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance and the PhD programme of the Netherlands Institute for Governance (NIG).

The project ‘Collective bargaining in current competition law’ is a collaboration between Prof Anna Gerbrandy (Utrecht University School of Law) and Prof Rutger Claassen (Utrecht University Ethics Institute) and a PhD candidate. Close collaboration will also take place with the PhD project team, based at the University of Amsterdam, led by Dr Hanneke Bennaars and focusing on labour law protection of platform workers. The PhD candidate will be employed by the School of Law and
participate in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Law, Governance and Economics and the PhD programme Ius Commune and will be embedded within the School of Law’s research group Regulation and Enforcement in Europe.

Both projects are part of a wider NWO-funded project called PlatWork-R, bringing together scholars from five Dutch universities and Statistics Netherlands (CBS), as well as various stakeholders including several ministries and social partners.

PlatWork-R is an interdisciplinary project combining economics, sociology, law, public administration and design science to investigate (regulatory options for) platform work. As a PhD candidate, you will be part of a larger group of seven researchers at Dutch universities, who will jointly participate in PhD-training and project workshops throughout your project. Both PhD candidates will thus be able to benefit from wider research communities. Coaching and a good support structure are part of the strengths of these PhD programmes.

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