National Productivity Week 27th November 2023 | Visit Website

A diverse community of
leading experts, policymakers
and practitioners

The Institute’s key research themes
are led by ten academic partners
spread across the UK.

Businesses are crucial to solving
the UK’s productivity problems.

We’re a UK-wide research
organisation exploring what
productivity means for business

Businesses are crucial to solving
the UK’s productivity problems.


How does the digital crowdsourcing of talent shape firms’ human capital, organisational capabilities and productivity?

This project is investigating how firms’ increasing use of digital/online talent platforms is cultivating new forms of human capital and in turn impacting on firms’ organisational capabilities and productivity. The research contributes to debate about firms’ human capital, organisational capabilities, and productivity, given the accelerated use of digital talent platforms by firms in all sectors of the economy. Developed economies have experienced low productivity problems in recent decades. There are competing arguments about the role of labour market flexibility in shaping firms’ human capital, and the implications for organisational capabilities and productivity.

More firms are crowdsourcing external talent to carry out knowledge-intensive work through digital labour platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, Toptal, Topcoder, Kaggle and Catalant. To shed light on the relationship between this talent crowdsourcing and the human capital of client firms, and the resulting impacts on firm capabilities and productivity, this exploratory research includes an original survey of UK and US firms tailored for this study, while also pulling secondary data from a survey of approximately 3,000 workers carried out in 100 countries on microtask, freelance and competitive programming platforms conducted by Dr Uma Rani on behalf of the International Labour Organization.

Project lead Hsing-Fen Lee (Royal Holloway University of London)

Collaborator Uma Rani (ILO)