Course Syllabus

Global Innovators- Navigating the Gig Economy

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Gig Economy

Semester & Location:

Fall 2020- Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Core Course- 3 Credits

Major Disciplines:

Business, Entrepreneurship, Management

Faculty Members:


Program Director:

Susanne Goul Hovmand-

Time & Place:



Description of Course

The so-called gig economy – characterized by temporary, flexible jobs – is one of the biggest current trends to affect the workplace and has the potential to change how we stitch together our careers. What is the gig economy and the shape of the future workplace – its opportunities and its challenges? What skills and mindsets are required to navigate it? How can you profit from your passion? In this course, we take a deep dive into the vibrant and mostly thriving community of young contract workers in Stockholm who have embraced the gig economy with gusto. We will examine the opportunities and challenges faced by nontraditional workers in various industries in Sweden and beyond – and explore how business culture is changing to adapt to the new market in talent.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course...

In investigating the rise of flexible work and its implications for future career trajectories, students will draw on a variety of disciplines, including management, innovation studies, business strategy, labor economics, economic history, sociology, psychology, and public health.   

After successful completion of the course, students will be able to: 

  • understand the trends shaping workplaces today and in the coming decades, including robotics, people analytics, and ubiquitous connectivity
  • reflect on the implications of growth in the gig economy in terms of the opportunities and challenges it presents for stakeholders
  • assess the effects of digital platforms on workforce diversity and barriers to employment, on how labor tasks are bundled and defined, and on relations among workers, including social learning
  • formulate their own hypotheses about the psychological, social, and financial implications of participation in flexible employment schemes, and validate their hypotheses with quantitative and qualitative data from published research in a variety of social sciences
  • identify skills and mindsets that enable individuals to navigate the emerging economic landscape successfully
  • recognize the progress they have made during the semester in acquiring relevant skills and mindsets, and articulate how they can use these skills – along with other facts, concepts, and theories discussed in class – in shaping their own personal career trajectories



To be announced.


  • Arun Sundarajan, The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2016).
  • Sarah Kessler, Gigged: The Gig Economy, the End of the Job, and the Future of Work (London: Random House, 2018).
  • Jeremias Prassl, Humans as a Service: The Promise and the Perils of Work in the Gig Economy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).

In addition to these books, an electronic compendium of recent articles will be provided at the start of the semester.


Study Tours and Field Studies

A large and vital portion of our learning will take place outside the classroom.

The course includes a short study tour in Sweden during Core Course Week. This three-day tour enhances the curriculum by taking a deep dive into the vibrant Swedish gig scene through meetings with different stakeholders such as local entrepreneurs, freelance contractors, networking platforms, human resource professionals, labor market researchers, and labor market institutions. On the short study tour, students experience and analyze the Swedish gig economy based on different stakeholder perspectives, and gain first hand insights into the skills and mindsets required to navigate in this future workplace.

Short study tour objectives:

  • Explore the Swedish gig ecosystem though first hand meetings with different stakeholders to gain insights from their different perspectives.
  • Reflect on the implications of the Swedish gig economy in terms of opportunities and challenges of different stakeholders, including skills and mindsets required to navigate such an economy.
  • Engage in informed discussions on the perspectives of the Swedish gig economy and how it shapes the workplace and career paths of the future.


Our long study tour to Lisbon offers students a week-long opportunity to explore the gig ecosystem in Portugal. The Portuguese economy is doing well, and some of the world’s largest companies are opening up new technology-focused hubs in Portugal. Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, has been experiencing a steadily increasing influx of freelance contract workers from all over the world – possibly attracted to the nice climate and tax benefits. On the long study tour, students meet with different stakeholders to gain their perspectives on the thriving gig scene in Lisbon.

Long study tour objectives:

  • Explore the gig scene in Lisbon though first hand meetings with different stakeholders to gain insights from their different perspectives on the future labor market, and the skills required to navigate it.
  • Reflect on similarities and differences in the experienced gig ecosystems in Portugal and in Sweden in terms of opportunities and challenges of different stakeholders, as well as the skills needed in term of cultural adaptability.
  • Engage in discussions on how business culture is changing to adapt to the new landscape in the market for talent, how this may shape future workplaces, and the required skills and mindsets of the future.

In addition to these tours, the course is supplemented with field studies (typically two) to sites of relevance in the Stockholm area. Possible field studies might include:

  • Meeting with local crowdworking programmers, entrepreneurs, and freelance contractors to learn first-hand from their experiences and the skills they have acquired along the way
  • Meeting human resource professionals in global companies to learn about their future strategies for attracting and retaining talent to stay competitive, including what types of talents and abilities they are looking for
  • Meeting with labor market researchers to gain insight into the rise of the gig economy in Sweden
  • Meeting with officials at labor market organizations such as the Ministry of Employment and Swedish labor unions to learn about how they prepare and adapt to this new landscape.

Information regarding programming of the short and long study tours and field studies will be provided on Canvas at the start of the semester.


Expectations of the Students

  • All readings must be done prior to each class session.
  • Laptops may be used for note‐taking, fact‐checking, or classroom assignments, but only when indicated by the instructor. Laptops and other electronic devices should be put away at all other times.
  • Students need to be present and participating in each and every class session in order to receive full credit. Unexcused absences will have a direct impact on the final grade.
  • Students are expected to treat others and their opinions with respect, and to express criticism constructively.


To be eligible for a passing grade in this class, all assigned work must be completed.

The factors influencing the final grade, and the proportional importance of each factor, are shown below:






Case Study Presentation (Individual)



Case Analyses (in teams)




Final Reflection Paper



Draft Course Overview (subject to change)





Platforms, Gigs, and Micro Jobs: Getting to Know the Gig Economy


Module I: Trends and Prospects


Megatrends Shaping the Future of Work: Digitization, Automation, Diffusion


Technological Prospects: Trust, Transparency, and Competition


Blockchain-Powered Platforms: How Crowds Create Value  


Decentralized Service Platforms: Challenges and Opportunities  


Core Course week – no elective classes


Module II: The New Individual Career Trajectory


Personal Branding: How Giggers Spot Opportunities and Build Relationships with Employers and Customers



How to Be Your Own Boss—While Moving From Team to Team



Workshop on Skills: Managing Uncertainty and Volatility



Workshop on Skills: Sustaining Productivity and Innovative Networking



The Employer Perspective: Building a Business with Nontraditional Labor


Speed-Dating Exercise: Simulating a Micro-Work Platform



Long study tour / Break



Module III: A Deep Dive into the Stockholm Gig Ecosystem


Focus on Local Entrepreneurs



Focus on Local SMEs, Local Platforms, and Networks



Focus on International Businesses and Platforms: How Swedish Giggers Compete


Winners and Losers in the Swedish Gig Scene: Personal and Professional Lessons Learned



Long study tour / Break


Module IV: The Big Picture and the Personal View



Incentives and Policies Shaping the Swedish Gig Scene: Health Care, Child Care, Unemployment Benefits



Perspectives on the Gig Economy: Empowering a More Diverse Workforce? Facilitating Greater Choice and Independence? Creating a Permanent “Precariat”?



The Upshot for Individuals: Personal Strategies to Survive and Thrive



Disability and Resource concerns: Any student who has a need for accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact Mark Peters to coordinate this. In order to receive accommodations, students should inform the instructor of approved DIS accommodations within the first two weeks of classes.

  • Attendance: Students are expected to attend all DIS classes when scheduled. If multiple classes are missed the Office of Academic Support will be notified and will follow-up to make sure, that all is well. Absences will jeopardize grades and academic standing at DIS. Allowances will be made in cases of illness, but in the case of multiple absences a doctor’s note is required.
  • Academic Honesty: Plagiarism and Violating the Rules of an Assignment: DIS expects that students abide by the highest standards of intellectual honesty in all academic work. DIS assumes that all students do their own work and credit all work or thought by others. Academic dishonesty will result in a final course grade of ‘F’ and can result in dismissal. The students’ home universities will be notified. In such cases, DIS reserves the right to request that written student assignments be turned in electronically for subjection to plagiarism detection software. See the Academic Handbook for more information, or ask your instructor if you have questions.

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:

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Course Summary:

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