Riding against the algorithm

Together with co-authors Aarni Tuomi, Brana Jianu and Mário Passos Ascenção we have published our research on the algorithmic management of food delivery platforms. In many countries, on-demand food delivery platforms (e.g. Deliveroo, Wolt, Uber Eats) have become an inseparable part of the hospitality and tourism ecosystem. A key area of interest in technology research has been how platforms algorithmically manage the interaction between task requesters (e.g. customers, tourists) and task fulfillers (e.g. restaurants and delivery couriers). However, there has been a lack of research on how such algorithmic management practices impact workers and what strategies workers adopt to counteract the algorithm. To that end, our qualitative study explores forms of expressing algoactivism in the context of on-demand food delivery platforms by conducting interviews with delivery couriers (n = 5) and restaurant workers and managers (n = 7). We found that both couriers and hospitality employees adopt specific behaviors to optimize and game the platforms’ algorithms, and that some algorithmic management practices are perceived more negatively than others.

The paper won 2nd place in Best Paper Awards at the 30th Annual International eTourism Conference ENTER23 in Johannesburg, South Africa.