Workshop on “Outsourcing and Its Impacts on the U.S. Workforce”

The network hosted its first in-person workshop, “Outsourcing and Its Impacts on the U.S. Workforce,” at the Harris School, University of Chicago on June 15-16, 2023.

View the program and paper abstracts

About the Workshop

Although the work arrangement of an employee working for a single employer is still the norm, there is rising attention and policy concern about the number of workers hired as independent contractors or through contract companies. Often such contracting arrangements are multi-layered. The dominance of franchising in some sectors and, more recently, the rise of “gig” platforms also illustrate how, as David Weil has put it, the nature of work has fissured. Despite these developments, we know relatively little of the prevalence of such arrangements in either levels or trends, and even less how these arrangements affect the well-being of different types of workers. The purpose of this workshop is to bring together leading and emerging scholars to discuss their recent empirical research related to issues of outsourcing, contract labor, and other types of fissuring. Both intermediate-stage and advanced work is welcome. Papers of interest might present new measurement approaches or evidence regarding the implications of these employment arrangements for workers. Research from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives is encouraged.

Watch presentations from our latest convening

Previous convenings

  • 6/7/22: "Alternative Work Arrangements: Truths and Lies," Paul Osterman (MIT). Video.
  • 3/22/22: "Independent Contractors and Business Outsourcing: What Can We Learn from Tax Data?"
    A panel discussion with Andy Garin (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Emilie Jackson (Michigan State University), Dmitri Koustas (University of Chicago), and Max Risch (Carnegie Mellon University); Moderator (tentative) Katharine Abraham (University of Maryland). Video forthcoming
  • 1/11/22: "Businesses' Use of Online Platforms," Hye Jin Rho (Michigan State), Geoff Parker (Dartmouth), John Horton (MIT), and Adam Ozimek (Upwork)
  • 4/21/21: "Pre-Automation: Insourcing and Automating the Gig Economy," Janet Vertesi (Princeton)