Platform-Supported Cooperative Work

A workshop at ECSCW 2021.

The submission deadline has passed. If you are interested in our workshop it is not too late! Please contact us as soon as possible.

The platform model, made popular by large internet-based companies such as Apple, Google, and Uber, is not anymore confined to simple transactional services such as buying music, searching the internet, or booking a taxi. Recently we have been witnessing a variety of organizations – both private and public –adopt aspects of the platform model. For example, healthcare platforms are acquired and introduced in hospitals and implement standardized models of patient care. Learning management platforms are bought by schools and universities and shape the way we educate our students. Governmental agencies have developed or acquired web-based platforms for public services. Cities and municipalities implement digital platforms that allow new ways of engaging with citizens.

In this workshop we want to discuss the platformization of work from a CSCW perspective. The CSCW literature contains substantial amount of research on digital platforms, but this research is mainly about two-sided global platforms such as social media, on-demand labor, and crowdsourcing platforms. If you are doing research in organizations that are undergoing platformization, please consider to participate to our workshop!

Some of the topics that we envision for the workshops are the following:

  • Participatory platform design and development. Platforms create a power imbalance by putting some participants in charge of the “platform core” and others in the periphery. How does this, together with the fact that platforms are often initially designed by others, affect participation during design and acquisition?
  • Platformization processes. When platforms are being designed, developed and deployed in the nascent phases, the practices involved can be highly influential, thus shaping the platformization process. The interplay of platformization with work practices and how practices can partake in platformization are thereby of interest. So are related fields of research such as software customization, end-user configuration, and information system implementation.
  • Platform and work practice evolution. Platforms are evolving in the direction of specializing and standardizing work, with the aim of lower transaction costs and larger markets. This means changes to work practices. For instance, everyone –including those who work in normal employment relationships –might gradually have to cope with work situations that resemble those of freelancers.

Workshop goal and how to participate

The workshop’s goal is to bring together researchers with common interest in the interplay between organizational platforms and work practices, to investigate the relationship with CSCW research. We want to find out what we as the CSCW community can learn from and teach to other neighboring disciplines about how platforms affect work, and how work practices affect the formation of platforms.

The workshop will include both presentations and a discussion of results and way ahead. The workshop is held online. We will use online collaboration tools for presentations and group sessions.

How to participate: Please send a position paper of maximum 4 pages to workshop organizers.

Important dates

  • Submission deadline: April 16
  • Notification of participation: April 30
  • Workshop date: June 6, 3-8 PM CET (Online).

Background: Platforms as sociotechnical systems

Platform is a debated and overused concept. Reading the literature, one might ask the question: What is the difference between a digital platform and any digital infrastructure? Platforms, as infrastructures, are socio-technical systems. This understanding is key to discussing their role in contemporary organisations. A platform is a piece of software (Tiwana, 2013), while it is also an market intermediary that connects needs with resources (Gawer 2014). A platform is a hybrid between market, firm and a community, and an organizational, technical and regulatory construct that facilitates value creation (Alaimo, Kallinikos, & Valderrama, 2019; de Reuver, Sørensen, & Basole, 2018; Islind, 2018).

One of the main characteristic of a digital platform is its division into a core and a periphery, both from a technical perspecting (using e.g. APIs and third party developers), and from an organizational perspective (e.g. core competencies and outsourcing). This division implies that many core functions of a platform are always taken for granted and cannot be modified or adopted by the users. Platforms that are developed in one cultural or organizational setting are often used in various other settings, enforcing values from their original setting as part of their core functionality.

Another main premise, related to the core-periphery division, is that platforms try to enforce particular standardizations and generifications of work practices in order to attract many users and create a viable business model for the platform (Pollock). This in turn tends to affect work practices, often by simplifying them into a common denominator, and eliminating (or not supporting) what is deemed to be unnecessary and waste (Monteiro). This for instance means that platforms often don’t support informal workplace processes –shown in many CSCW-inspired workplace studies to be important –and focus on the formalized business processes instead.

Platforms collect large amounts of uniform data . Data-driven algorithms and automation processes are increasingly being used to re-inforce the standardized view of work practices depicted in the platform core, and create new evaluation criteria for the workers and the work being done. In many countries this can normalize surveillance and lead to job-related stress as already observed in many on-demand labor platforms.

Another main characteristic of platforms is that they often have an owner in a rather strong power position. Platform owners are often part of separate organizations, with a business agenda that can be contrary to the interests of the user organizations. This has great impact on the participation processes when implementing platforms in organizations.

The CSCW literature contains substantial amount of research on platforms, but this research to date has mainly been focusing on two-sided global platforms such as social media, on-demand labor, and crowdsourcing platforms (Hansson, Ludwig, & Aitamurto, 2019; Harmon & Silberman, 2018; Martin, Hanrahan, O’Neill, & Gupta, 2014).

In many countries, platformization of organizations, both private and public, is well underway (Casilli & Posada, 2014; Gustavsson & Ljungberg, 2019; Janssen & Estevez, 2013; Vassilakopoulou et al., 2017). We define platformization as the process of organizational, social, financial and technological transformation that an organization often must go through to effectively utilize a platform model (Bygstad & Hanseth, 2018; Farshchian & Thomassen, 2019; Islind, Lindroth, Lundin, & Steineck, 2019; Zhu & Furr, 2016). Platformization as a process can affect how we design systems –the platform and its peripheral applications and customizations –and how we use systems for collaboration.

Based on the discussn above, the topics for the workshop include but are not limited to the following:

  • Participatory platform design and development
  • Platformization processes
  • Platform and work practice evolution


Babak Farshchian is associate professor of software engineering and information systems at the Norwegian university of science and technology (NTNU). Babak’s research interests include the digitalization of the public sector, in particular health and social services.

Miria Grisot is an associate professor in information systems at the University of Oslo. Miria’s research interests include the digitalisation of the public sector, in particular healthcare and social services with a focus on the changing nature of collaborative work.

Stefan Hochwarter is a PhD candidate in information systems and computer-supported cooperative work at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Stefan’s research interest lies primarily in the digitalization of healthcare services, especially within the area of assistive technologies, platforms and participatory design.

Anna Sigridur Islind is assistant professor in information systems at the School of Computer Science at Reykjavik University in Iceland. Anna Sigridur’s research interests include design, development and use of small-scale platforms in general and for wellbeing and health purposes in particular.

Marius Mikalsen is a senior research scientist at SINTEF Digital and has a post doc position at the Norwegian university of science and technology (NTNU). Marius´ research interests include large scale information systems, digital platforms, information infrastructures and digital transformation.

Elena Parmiggiani is associate professor of CSCW and Digital Collaboration at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Elena’s research interests include the empirical study of the design, development, use of platforms and infrastructures in the public and private sector, in particular in connection with environmental monitoring and oil and gas data management.

Polyxeni Vassilakopoulou is an associate professor on Information Systems at the University of Agder. Polyxeni´s research interests include the design of ICT-enabled interventions in work systems and the bearing of digital technology on people and organizations.


Alaimo, C., Kallinikos, J., & Valderrama, E. (2019). Platforms as service ecosystems: Lessons from social media. Journal of Information Technology.

Bygstad, B., & Hanseth, O. (2018). Transforming digital infrastructures through platformization. In ECIS 2018 Proceedings. Portsmouth, UK: AIS Electronic Library.

Casilli, A., & Posada, J. (2014). The platformization of labor and society. In Society and the Internet (pp. 293–306). Oxford University Press.

de Reuver, M., Sørensen, C., & Basole, R. C. (2018). The Digital Platform: A Research Agenda. Journal of Information Technology, 33(2), 124–135.

Farshchian, B. A., & Thomassen, H. E. (2019). Co-Creating Platform Governance Models Using Boundary Resources: a Case Study from Dementia Care Services. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW).

Gustavsson, M., & Ljungberg, J. (2019). Platformization of a Cloud Service. In Fortieth International Conference on Information Systems (pp. 1–15). Munich, Germany: AIS Electronic Library. Retrieved from

Islind, A. S. (2018). Platformization : Co-Designing Digital Platforms in Practice. University West. Retrieved from

Islind, A. S., Lindroth, T., Lundin, J., & Steineck, G. (2019). Co-designing a digital platform with boundary objects: bringing together heterogeneous users in healthcare. Health and Technology, 9(4), 425–438.

Janssen, M., & Estevez, E. (2013). Lean government and platform-based governance-Doing more with less. Government Information Quarterly, 30(SUPPL. 1), S1–S8.

Vassilakopoulou, P., Grisot, M., Jensen, T. B., Sellberg, N., Eltes, J., Thorseng, A. A., & Aanestad, M. (2017). Building National eHealth Platforms: the Challenge of Inclusiveness. Thirty Eighth International Conference on Information Systems, 1–14.

Zhu, F., & Furr, N. (2016). Products to Platforms: Making the Leap. Harvard Business Review, 94(4), 18. Retrieved from

Get in touch:

Contact for questions and submissions.