Eric Anicich, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Management and Organization
As part of his research for “Flexing and Floundering in the On-Demand Economy: Narrative Identity Construction Under Algorithmic Management,” published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Anicich spent 130 hours working as a food delivery driver for Postmates.
Anicich’s research studies the forms and functions of social hierarchy within groups, contributing to knowledge on leadership, teams and social cognition. He publishes prolifically in leading academic journals, such as Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Psychological Science. He currently serves on the editorial board of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.
Among his recent honors are three for his 2021 co-authored paper, “Structuring Local Environments to Avoid Diversity: Anxiety Drives Whites’ Geographical and Institutional Self- Segregation Preferences,” published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology:
Runner-up for the Dorothy Harlow Best Conference Paper Award, Academy of Management, 2020
Best Paper Proceedings Recognition, Academy of Management, 2020
“Editors’ Choice” article in Science (Apr. 30, 2021)
Anicich is the winner of the 2021 Early Career Award from the International Association for Conflict Management, which honors a scholar in the first five years of their post-doctoral career who has shown exceptional promise for making
Research Fair Presentation Summary
Narrative Identity Construction in the On-Demand Economy
Roughly 41 million American adults have worked as a rideshare or food delivery driver for an on-demand technology platform in the past (e.g., Uber, DoorDash, Postmates). To better understand the psychological as opposed to purely economic implications of this disruptive segment of the economy and the challenges facing the workers who, quite literally, drive it, I conducted an inductive, qualitative field study in the on-demand economy. My findings revealed that certain characteristics of app-work that workers experienced as depersonalizing – namely, workers’ exposure to independent contracting, technologically-mediated task environments, and no coworkers – simultaneously reduced interpersonal accountability concerns, allowing workers to self-servingly construe identity-implicating experiences through narrative flexing, a form of narrative identity work that workers enacted intrapersonally (through narrative structuring, fantasizing, rationalizing) and interpersonally (through storytelling in online driver communities). Overall, this work details how workers respond to the threat that a certain work arrangement – app-based, contract work in the on-demand economy – poses to familiar ways of becoming and expressing oneself at work. In doing so, I offer a novel perspective on the technological and social constraints and opportunities that influence the identity dynamics of growing class of workers who are suspended in between traditional employment and fully independent work.