497-120: Explorations of a Gig Economy in an (Increasingly) Urban Society

CRN
26748
Meeting Days/Time
Mondays from 10:00 am to 12:40 pm
Instructor
Robert Pontarelli (ID) (bob@cbarts.com)
Appropriate Majors
All interested students are welcome
Category
Business Innovation

This IPRO offers great opportunities for new business creation, from software development to the physical environs that provide networking opportunities in numerous part-time and consulting business “gigs”. As such, there are further feasible opportunities available for architecture majors, software and IT, as well as business, marketing, industrial management, statistics and logistics. It is entirely possible that the project outcome may remain either open-ended to the end or result in the creation of a new business or software program. Either way, students will create the final result for themselves with coaching from the instructor.

A Gig Economy is defined as a condition where jobs are temporary (“on-demand”) and organizations contract with individuals or groups, rather than hire “employees”. According to a recent forecast by Intuit Corp there will be over seven million people participating in such a temporary workforce by 2020.

Some current examples of a Gig Economy are Uber and Lyft in transportation and Airbnb in the real estate sector.  The prospect of such a rapid expansion in a new business typology raises many questions in terms of the potential challenges to both business owners and on-demand workers. For example, Uber has been prohibited from operating in certain cities and is often under public pressure for potentially threatening existing taxi cab markets.

While providing much needed income for suffering middle-class households, Airbnb may also alter existing real estate markets (worldwide?). Hoteliers often lobby the municipalities where they operate to hopefully limit the expansion of Airbnb into their markets. Municipalities concerned about potential lost real estate tax income are considering regulating and taxing Airbnb.

The IPRO team will explore the content, relevancy and potential of this Gig Economy, identify the social, business, regulatory and legal threats to the growth of not only on-demand employment itself but the as-yet-to-be-seen residual effects of its growth in other, as-yet-unidentified markets and business sectors. The objective of the IPRO is to effectively research, fully efface the Gig Economy, prognosticate upon a possible future within this economy and in the process develop a new Gig prototype.

 

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