Susan J. Ashford

New $100,000 grant goes to proposal to study gig workers’ resilience led by Ross professor

May 29, 2020

Sue Ashford, the Michael & Susan Jandernoa Professor of Management and Organizations and the chair of M&O at the Ross School of Business, has won the first-ever $100,000 Visionary Grant from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 

SIOP created the grant as an ongoing source of funding for visionary ideas. The group received $1,000 donations from 100 scholars and solicited proposals that answered the question, “What would you do if you had $100K to shape the future world of work?”

The recently announced winning proposal is “Working Off the Grid: Building Resilience in the Gig Economy,” submitted by Ashford; former University of Michigan PhD student Brianna Caza, now on the faculty at UNC-Greensboro; and Brittany Lambert of the University of Colorado.

Their proposal is to better understand the needs of gig workers — those operating without a formal employer, in contract or freelance roles. This growing sector is expected to be 40 percent of the workforce by mid-2020s.

“We have little understanding of them, their work, and most importantly for our focus, the strategies that will enable them to thrive in this setting,” Ashford noted in a video made to support her team’s proposal. Specifically, the team proposes to help these independent workers by researching how they learn to stay resilient, and which strategies are most effective.

“Our team was incredibly honored to win this grant contest, as the other three finalists were also great and deserving. We also are extremely grateful to the scholars and practitioners who donated money to fund this grant,” Ashford said. “Their identification of the need for more visionary research, their willingness to support that goal financially, and their endorsement of this project means the world to us.”

Ashford said the team is currently working out timing and next steps to start conducting the research.

This article was originally published as a Ross News Blog post.