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Where does Uber go from here? The future of the sharing and gig economy, explained

February 14, 2023

With ongoing fights over worker classification, and increased pressure to turn a profit in a rising rate environment, it's time to ask: What's next for the sharing economy? Professor Ming Hu explains.

In the latest episode of the Rotman Executive Summary podcast, professor Ming Hu explores the unique challenges in the sharing and gig economy, shining a light on Uber’s previous wins and ongoing tensions as an example.

From plummeting demand for ridesharing during the pandemic, to inflationary pressures once again changing how people travel, there’s a seemingly relentless host of challenges for Uber to overcome. And despite ending 2022 strong with US$8.6 billion in revenue — a 49 per cent increase from the same period a year ago — there's now mounting pressure to keep demand high in a sustainable way for its gig workforce.

“The company really needs to pay attention to both sides (drivers and riders) and try to balance the supply and demand to make the market more efficient,” says Hu, a distinguished professor of business operations and analytics at the Rotman School.

And with increasing pressure to change the way their gig employees are compensated and protected, Hu says the company should consider steering clear of a “one size fits all” approach.

“Ad hoc workers do gigs mostly to supplement the income from their full-time jobs, while long-term workers take gig jobs as a primary source of income and work as much as full time employees,” he says. “Instead of just having one classification of treating everyone as [full-time] employees, we should treat ad hoc workers and long-term workers differently.”

Next month on Rotman Executive Summary, professor Sarah Kaplan and Carmina Ravanera from the Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE) speak about how equity and accessibility come into play in the back-to-office conversation.

If you missed the previous episode with assistant professor Kevin Bryan on the global innovation crisis, listen here.

New episodes of the Rotman Executive Summary are released monthly on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Soundcloud. Desktop listeners can also tune in on Simplecast.

Would you rather read than listen in? Check out the full transcript of the episode here.

Written by Jessie Park | More Faculty Research Profiles »

Meet the researcher

Ming Hu

University of Toronto Distinguished Professor of Business Operations and Analytics
Ph.D. Coordinator in Operations Management and Statistics

Read his full biography →