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:

Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Sociology

Faculty Members:

Petra Sundell and Stylianos Papaioannou

Program Director:

Susanne Goul Hovmand-

Time & Place:

Mondays, 14.50-17.45- 1E-510


Description of Course

Are you interested in learning more about what it is like to design your own future career? Do you see yourself as your own boss working independently on cutting-edge projects that helps shape the future? How about actually meeting people who has chosen this life style and are happy to share their experiences, and how they utilize opportunities and manage risks in order to navigate this career path?  If this sounds interesting to you, please join our new course Global Innovators – Navigating the Gig Economy co-taught by an experienced CEO who supports professionals in this career path, combined with a researcher who specializes in the gig economy. 
This course provides you with an opportunity to learn from and network with professionals within many disciplines. They have one thing in common, they decided not to take on traditional fulltime employment but instead followed their passion and now works independently on projects and short-term contracts in the vibrant gig communities of Stockholm and Lisbon.
• Meet peers and young professionals in Sweden and Portugal who are creating their own careers rooted in their own deeply-held interests and values 

• Profit from your passion: Learn how to leverage both the causes you care about and the knowledge you’ve gained in college for real-world success in the gig economy and beyond

• Practice self-branding by developing an individual skill portfolio that can help you highlight your values and strengths in interviews with employers and future clients

• Explore how enterprising young people in Stockholm and Lisbon are adapting successfully to the gig economy—and learn by their example how to face life and career challenges with flexibility and resilience 

• Experience the special importance of cross-cultural skills for developing a values-driven career path, personal network, and community

• Connect with experts and key actors in enterprises and communities of interest to you, using the course as a platform and your faculty as a resource to facilitate your ability to network

• Accelerate your professional growth by reflecting on the progress you have made during the semester gaining valuable life skills - and articulate how you can use these skills in shaping a fulfilling life path

• Prepare for future appointments not yet made and develop your own tool box for navigating complexity and taking ownership of your career 

• Understand how local stakeholders within multiple disciplines support the growth of gig economy hubs, by meeting local entrepreneurs, freelance contractors, networking platform architects, headhunters and corporate HR professionals, as well as with researchers and policymakers at labor market institutions.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this course...

In investigating the rise of flexible work and its implications for future career trajectories, you 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, you 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



Petra Sundell: A serial entrepreneur and venture builder focusing on the areas of future of work, future of education, and mental wellbeing. She has a background as a business and market strategist, and a deep passion for the business development, growth and expansion phases of startups. Already at the age of 19, Petra started her first company. She’s since split her time between career-coaching and consulting startups and smaller companies on their growth journeys. In recent years Petra worked as a Community Manager at one of the first and internationally most recognized startup hubs of the Nordics, SUP46, where she supported over 100 startups. She also helped launch TheNordicHub in Sweden, and developed a sweat equity investment strategy for a venture builder concept. Currently, Petra is dedicated to build her latest company, Upbeater, with the mission to help students and startups reach success by offering ways for them to support each other's growth. During 2020, the company will be releasing a new service, the Upbeater Society, supporting even more collaboration opportunities between students and startups through connections, interactions and gigs.

Stylianos Papaioannou: PhD Candidate in International Entrepreneurship, Uppsala University (Sweden). Starting point of his research was his twice-awarded Master Thesis in Linnaeus University (Sweden), when he researched the Business Strategy of Small Exporting Enterprises. Later, his research focused on the International Entrepreneurship behavior of Small and Medium Sized firms. By designing the research strategy, gathering data for more than 250 Swedish cases, and analyzing both in qualitative and quantitative methods, he contributed to knowledge of the opportunity driven internationalization of firms by his research publications in high ranked peer-reviewed journals. His interests include the entrepreneurial behavior of firms, their business networks, and the attributes of the developed opportunities in terms of novelty and value, as well as explaining the seemingly irrational decision making of entrepreneurs.


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, you will 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 you 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, you will 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.



  • 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. The course outline will be posted on DIS Canvas, listing the required readings for each lecture. Check the course outline frequently for updates.


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.
  • You 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.
  • You are expected to treat others and their opinions with respect, and to express criticism constructively.

Assessment and Feedback

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  including short study tour in Sweden

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:

DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

Course Summary:

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