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Digital Nomadism and the Market Economy: Resistance and Compliance


Abstract and Figures

Digital nomadism is a growing phenomenon wherein technology enables new forms of resistance against the norms of the market economy. However, digital nomads inevitably also comply with the market economy. In this paper, we synthesise literature about the complicating role of technology in the market economy throughout history, to develop a research framework for an empirical study of digital nomadism and the market economy. Based on this research framework, we have conducted some preliminary fieldwork, observing the emergence of five trends in how digital nomads participate in the market economy: collaborative creative consumption; self-driven and self-disciplined work; reimagination of work materials; interjurisdictional prospecting; and unregulated de-facto citizenship. These trends have a range of theoretical and practical implications that we will continue to uncover in our ongoing research.
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Digital Nomadism and the Market Economy
Fortieth International Conference on Information Systems, Munich 2019 1
Digital Nomadism and the Market Economy:
Resistance and Compliance
Short Paper
Blair Wang
UNSW Business School
Sydney, Australia
Daniel Schlagwein
University of Sydney Business School
Sydney, Australia
Dubravka Cecez-Kecmanovic
UNSW Business School
Sydney, Australia
Michael Cahalane
UNSW Business School
Sydney, Australia
Digital nomadism is a growing phenomenon wherein technology enables new forms of
resistance against the norms of the market economy. However, digital nomads
inevitably also comply with the market economy. In this paper, we synthesise literature
about the complicating role of technology in the market economy throughout history, to
develop a research framework for an empirical study of digital nomadism and the
market economy. Based on this research framework, we have conducted some
preliminary fieldwork, observing the emergence of five trends in how digital nomads
participate in the market economy: collaborative creative consumption; self-driven and
self-disciplined work; reimagination of work materials; interjurisdictional prospecting;
and unregulated de-facto citizenship. These trends have a range of theoretical and
practical implications that we will continue to uncover in our ongoing research.
Keywords: digital nomadism, market economy, digital work
Digital nomadism is emerging as one of the latest technological advances in the history of technology
accompanying changes in how societies and economies are organised. Digital nomadism is characterised
by a lifestyle of perpetual international travel enabled by digital technologies and digital practices
(Schlagwein 2018). Those who live this lifestyle are known as digital nomads. Digital nomads leverage
digital technologies in all their forms: highly-portable hardware, cloud-based software, and modern
online platforms and ecosystems for communication and collaboration (Nash et al. 2018).
The broader socioeconomic context for digital nomadism is the market economy, to which it has an
ambivalent relationship. We observe that digital nomadism is a product of the market economy and yet in
many ways exemplifies resistance to the market economy. However, this resistance is muted by an
inevitable outcome of compliance when such resistances are explored in further depth.
In this research-in-progress paper, we present our empirical study that aims to understand this apparent
paradox and thus reveal an under-explored aspect of the digital nomadism phenomenon. What we have
found so far is that that this resistance-compliance paradox occurs in five areas that we present and
elaborate upon in this paper: collaborative creative consumption; self-driven and self-disciplined work;
reimagination of work materials; interjurisdictional prospecting; and unregulated de-facto citizenship.
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The remainder of the paper is structured like so: The second section presents a literature review that
unpacks the state of current knowledge about digital nomadism and its economic conditions; and explains
the historical evolution of concept of the market economy. The third section presents our research
framework developed from the synthesis of existing literature. The fourth section presents our research
design for an empirical study for inquiries based on this research framework. The fifth section presents
preliminary findings from our fieldwork, wherein the resistance and compliance seen in digital nomadism
is framed as five emerging trends in how digital nomads participate in the market economy. The sixth and
final section presents our contributions and future directions for our research.
Literature Review
Digital Nomadism and Its Economic Conditions
We adopted a hermeneutic approach to literature review and literature search (Boell and Cecez-
Kecmanovic 2014). This is because research about the emerging phenomenon of digital nomadism is
characterised by a relative scarcity of literature and by studies clustering around a few major recurring
themes (Wang et al. 2018). Specifically, existing research about digital nomadism seems to be clustered
around the individual digital nomad’s trajectory and quest for a better life (Reichenberger 2018; Hall et al.
2019; Büscher 2013; Czarniawska 2013; Müller 2016), or the technical aspects of the infrastructure used
by digital nomads (Jarrahi et al. 2019; Nash et al. 2018; Sutherland and Jarrahi 2017). Yet these micro-
level practices are shaped by, and in turn shape, macro-level circumstances such as the economic
conditions. Research addressing the economic conditions of digital nomadism has largely mentioned it
only in passing when generally discussing macro-level circumstances such as sociological and cultural
concerns. However, the economic conditions in the form of both resistance and compliance emerge
from within this literature, as discussed below.
Firstly, resistance and compliance emerge in relation to work practices in the labour market. Due to their
rejection of secure employment and ‘9 to 5’ work hours separated from leisure hours, digital nomads are
said to gain freedom, but exist in a “conflation of perpetual travel and work” (Nash et al. 2018). However,
these work conditions are highly precarious and subject to the conditions of the market economy (Ens et
al. 2018), therefore requiring each digital nomad to have comprehensive entrepreneurial and business
skills (Bartosik-Purgat 2018; Bancilhon et al. 2019) while committing additional effort to overcome
institutional gaps between digital nomads and their sometimes very traditional clients (Kong et al. 2019).
Secondly, resistance and compliance emerge in relation to the format of economic production. Due to
their status as knowledge workers, digital nomads have many opportunities in an increasingly knowledge-
based economy (Moravec 2013; Wood 2005). As digital workers, digital nomads also enjoy the
opportunities afforded by the digital age including highly efficient work tools and online services (Wang et
al. 2018). However, such opportunities undermine productivity since “digital nomads are permanently
anxious and stressed because their labour productivity is not high enough comparing to the opportunities
they have” (Kuzheleva-Sagan and Nosova 2014, p. 136).
Thirdly, resistance and compliance emerge in relation to governments and their economic policies. Due to
their ability to easily move between different economies and nation states, digital nomads are said to be a
new type of “extraterritorial elite” (Dobrinskaya 2016), which seems to challenge the dominance of the
nation state. However, such conditions have their origins in the nation state. Due to their backgrounds,
typically young professionals from developed nations who choose digital nomadism to escape “downward
mobility, shrinking governmental safety nets, and raising rates of debt” (Thompson 2018, p. 23), digital
nomadism seems to be a response to governments’ inability to bring equal opportunity to all.
In order to specifically address the concerns surrounding the economic conditions, we proceeded with the
established theoretical lens of the market economy to inform our further investigation of such concerns.
The Complications of Technology in the Market Economy
The concept of the “market economy” was first articulated by Adam Smith (1776), who asserted this
economic model as the most efficient allocation of resources. Today, the market economy is the
international system in which goods and services are produced, exchanged, and consumed in allocated by
the forces of supply and demand, emerging naturally from the populace without central control. This
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Fortieth International Conference on Information Systems, Munich 2019 3
system is also referred to as ‘capitalism’ or ‘neoliberalism’ (though there are historical and theoretical
nuances outside the scope of this paper differentiating these terms). The forces of supply and demand
emerge from the effort required for production, and the desirability of goods and services for
consumption. A society’s allocation of scarce resources to various sectors e.g. agriculture,
manufacturing, healthcare, creative arts, scientific research is thus arranged by the forces of supply and
demand. In order to produce value in the market economy, some work must occur. This work involves
human effort and skill applied to some natural resources. Smith (1776) referred to this as the ‘factors of
production’: ‘labour’ applied to ‘land’ (from which the natural resources were acquired). For labour, one
must pay ‘wages’, and for land, one must pay ‘rent’. Additionally, Smith (1776) observed that there was a
third such ‘factor of production’, the ‘capital’ the equipment used by the labourer. This equipment is
technology for which to pay ‘investment’. Even prior to the proliferation of digital technologies, these
relatively simple agricultural technologies introduced complications to the ideal of the market economy.
The first such complication is the inequitable distribution of new technology in the market economy. In
the midst of the accelerating Industrial Revolution, Karl Marx observed that one segment in Western
societies, the ‘bourgeoisie’ of capitalists (entrepreneurs and owners), seemed to be leveraging their
ownership of the material factors of production (resources and equipment) to exploit the human factors of
production, the labourers. Not only did the bourgeoisie control the land, but they also possessed the
newest and best equipment t0 extract natural resources from the land (Marx 1867). Meanwhile, the other
segment, the ‘proletariat’ of labourers (workers), seemed to provide the most strenuous human efforts in
production, but at relatively low wages due to their limited bargaining power against the well-endowed
bourgeoisie. While there have been historical cases of uprisings intended to put the proletariat in control
(e.g. the former USSR), Marx’s critique of the market economy have emphasised the importance of
addressing inequitable distribution, which is now achieved in modern liberal democracies to some degree
through a combination of collective labourer bargaining enacted through trade unions, and welfare
programmes enacted through progressive taxation systems (Deeming 2014).
The second such complication is the uncertain potentiality of technology in the market economy. A
historical example is the Great Depression (1929-1939). During this economic turmoil, John Maynard
Keynes observed (Keynes 1930; Keynes 1936) that, contrary to Marx’s views, entrepreneurs are not always
exploitative freeloaders. Entrepreneurs, Keynes argued, contribute to society by allocating some of their
profits towards investments in new business ventures leveraging new technologies, despite their uncertain
outcome. Failure to do this, Keynes argued, had exacerbated what he termed the “technological
unemployment” of the post-war era that had led to the Great Depression, characterised by
“unemployment due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at
which we can find new uses for labour” (Keynes 1930). Combined with later work by Friedman (1968),
these ideas developed by Keynes have inspired economic policy wherein governments, to be successful at
managing their economies, do not merely ensure equitable redistribution of wealth they also ensure that
wealth circulates towards new investments, through both the manipulation of interest rates and currency
value (monetary policies) and direct payment for new technological infrastructure using taxation revenue
(fiscal policies). Such regulatory and interventionist policies are ubiquitous in modern nation states.
The third and most recent complication comes from the post-scarcity conditions introduced by digital
technology. The concept of post-scarcity comes from the concepts of excludability and rivalry. In
economic theory, a product is non-excludable if it is difficult to deny access to those who do not pay for it,
and non-rival if access by a new user does not diminish usage by existing users. Such a product is a ‘public
good’ (Samuelson 1954). Prior to the proliferation of digital technologies, information and knowledge
existed in physical forms that were indeed by their nature both excludable and rivalrous. However, digital
information is in fact a natural public good (Mihet and Philippon 2018; Benkler 2002), since it can be
instantly replicated for use by an unlimited number of parties, and thus non-excludable and non-rival
(copy prevention technologies exist, but are often circumventable). The market economy, then, is a
potentially unsuitable paradigm in an increasingly information-based economy. Consequently, to avoid
sudden and potentially destructive structural changes to the status quo, the market economy is kept in
place through legal interventions such as the concept of intellectual property, a form of artificial scarcity.
Combined with the reduction of scarcity even in non-information products due to increased automation,
humanity is therefore said to be approaching a ‘post-scarcity’ paradigm: although scarcity still applies to
certain sectors of the economy, scarcity-free sectors working with information-based value creation are
increasingly more relevant (Chernomas 2016). By extension, this is said to be a ‘post-capitalist’ paradigm,
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in which “the nation state is not going to ‘wither away’ … but it will no longer be the indispensable one; it
will share power with other organs, other institutions, other policy makers” (Drucker 1993, p. 9).
Research Framework
Synthesising from our above literature review of (1) macro-level socioeconomic concerns in digital
nomadism and (2) the evolution of the market economy, we arrive at our research framework in Figure 1.
We arrive at this framework by identifying how key concerns in the literature about economic conditions
surrounding digital nomadism (bottom panel) have their origins in the downflowing effects of the pillars
of the market economy (middle panel), which have been shaped by the downflowing effects of the
historical evolution of the market economy (top panel).
Figure 1. Research Framework, synthesising from prior literature
To ground our inquiry in the theory of the market economy, we derive research questions from the pillars
of the market economy (middle panel), each addressing how digital nomadism resists and complies with
not just the concerns already identified in the literature (bottom panel), but indeed, all pillars of the
market economy (middle panel). These are Research Questions 1-5:
How does digital nomadism resist against and comply with the market economy’s established …
1. … practices of consumption and trade? (RQ1)
2. … organisation of the human factors of production? (RQ2)
3. … configuration of the material factors of production? (RQ3)
4. … implementation of monetary policies by governments? (RQ4)
5. … implementation of fiscal policies by governments? (RQ5)
Research Design
Research approach: To answer our research questions, we adopt an interpretivist epistemology (Klein
and Myers 1999) seeking to remain sensitive to the richness and depth of human experiences.
Accordingly, compared to more positivist approaches, we seek to remain receptive to what may be
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considered ‘biasas the basis for generating new categories of discourse. However, compared to a
historical-materialist approach, we do not assume technological determinism (Shaw 1979), but rather, an
open-ended set of potentialities (Feenberg 2005). Accordingly, although we have cited Marx (among other
economic thinkers), we do not adopt Marx’s historical materialism (Marx 1867; Shaw 1979).
Sampling approach: We conduct fieldwork expeditions in locations that attract a significant number of
digital nomads. To date, these have included Ubud (Indonesia) and Taipei (Taiwan). Our field studies
involve observations and interviews with digital nomads and other stakeholders involved in digital
nomadism. So far, we have conducted open-ended in-depth interviews with 8 current digital nomads, 4
service providers to digital nomads, 1 ex-digital-nomad, and 1 aspiring digital nomad (14 in total). Both
the choice of fieldwork locations and the selection of interviewees are purposive theoretical samples. In
our observations (Oct.-Nov. 2018) of the rankings on the digital nomad community website, Ubud and Taipei are both digital nomad hotspots. However, they attract different types of
digital nomads (i.e., those seeking a ‘tropical paradise’ vs. those seeking a large cosmopolitan city), and
different types of stakeholders have different perspectives about the broader phenomenon of digital
nomadism. Both these locations is managed by a government that facilitates a market economy model of
consumption and trade (cf. RQ1) and production (cf. RQ2, RQ3), yet with a non-trivial but also not
limitless extent of government intervention with respect to monetary and fiscal policies (cf. RQ4, RQ5).
Data analysis: Each interview was recorded with the interviewee’s permission and transcribed into text
data files. We are currently in the process of analysing the interviews through a hermeneutic approach
(Gadamer 2004; Klein and Myers 1999) involving multiple cycles of iterative understanding,
operationalised by open and axial coding facilitated by the NVivo 12 Pro software package.
Preliminary Findings
Our findings so far are characterised by five emerging trends in how digital nomads participate in the
market economy. These involve both resistance against and compliance with the market economy, as per
RQ1-RQ5 (see Table 1, and the details presented thereafter).
Table 1. Five Emerging Trends, in how digital nomads participate in the market economy
Emerging Trend
Seeking transcendentalism
instead of consumerism
Still need to consume,
esp. for physical projects
creative consumption
Seeking flexibility instead
of fixed regimented routine
Still work long hours as
Self-driven and
self-disciplined work
No need for physical
resources and assets
New need for workspaces,
both online and physical
Reimagination of
work materials
Evading the business cycle
and government regulation
Still influenced by
monetary policies
Evading local taxation due
to ambiguous legal status
Still contribute, and still
use public infrastructure
Unregulated de-facto
Table 1. Five Emerging Trends, in how digital nomads participate in the market economy
Emerging Trend 1 Collaborative Creative Consumption (re. RQ1)
Digital nomadism resists the market economy’s call to sustain high levels of consumer demand. This trend
emerges not only from the pragmatic concern of having fewer physical goods to carry from place to place,
but also in a deeper gravitation away from consumerism and towards transcendentalism. This is well-
captured by the endpoints of one digital nomad’s journey “I left [my job in large company], sold my
furniture and my stuff in San Francisco. I went to India, I travelled around … I was starting to really love
yoga more and more, it was helping me quiet my mind a bit” – from a city life filled with material
consumer goods, to a nomadic life defined by the transcendental value of spiritual practices.
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However, digital nomads cannot completely negate the inevitable need for consumption. They may limit
their purchase of physical assets, but they must consume services ranging from transportation and
accommodation to workspaces and paid community memberships. In particular, in our fieldwork in
Taipei, we discovered the emergence of two types of digital nomads: (1) those producing purely digital
goods and services, and (2) those producing digital goods and physical goods, particularly physical goods
that enable digital production (i.e., electronic equipment). The latter have greater consumption needs for
their work. We were reminded that many travelling entrepreneurs, expats, and digital nomads gravitate
towards Taipei and similar cities due to the proximity of these cities towards the electronics
manufacturing process, which is essential for producing the very tools that digital nomads must
necessarily consume. As we heard from one coworking space owner in Taipei, about how he came to
create his coworking space:“if I get the tools, get the space, and then I share it, you know, basically this
new model of sharing equipment and manufacturing facilities, turning it into like a gym so you pay a
monthly fee and you have access to all the tools and then you can prototype, you can make small volumes
… a lot of them were foreigners, because they didn’t know where to find these resources”.
Overall, digital nomads may resist the general sentiment of consumerism, but they must still consume.
However, this consumption takes on a creative nature. It is creative in that it enables creativity in the
work produced by digital nomads, whose work is closely related with the concept of creative consumption
(Page and Pitt 2011). It is also creative in that it takes on creative and innovative formats such as the gym
model, which is the concept of collaborative consumption (Ritzer 2013). Thus, we arrive at the emerging
trend of digital nomads participating in the market economy through collaborative creative consumption.
Emerging Trend 2 Self-Driven and Self-Disciplined Work (re. RQ2)
Digital nomads speak extensively about their resistance towards a fixed regimented routine of a ‘9 to 5’
job. This is not only as a matter of personal liberty, but also as a matter of economic efficiency and human
dignity. As one digital nomad recalled: “Having to go into an office at 8:30AM to 6PM and be seen to be
doing work when you might go through two hours of ‘I've finished my work for the day, you know, I want
to bust out’, it's like ‘no no, you've got to be seen, you've got to be here’, and then when it comes to End of
Financial Year, I've got to do a month worth of twelve hour days … so this is just treating people more like
adults, rewarding them f0r the work that they do as opposed to the amount of time they sit at the office”.
While resistance against the fixed regimented ‘9 to 5’ routine enables such improvements to working life,
it also results in precarious work that is insecure and uncertain, open to market volatility. The ‘9 to 5’ is
not automatically replaced with a mere ‘four hour work week’, despite how Ferriss (2007) seems to have
inspired digital nomads to pursue such an outcome. Digital nomads are indeed a new class of
entrepreneurs, but these are labourer-entrepreneurs who work even longer hours than the standard ‘8
hours a day’. Digital nomads must work both for their clients and for their own business development. As
one digital nomad described: “I’m working the weekends now, but we work more during the week for our
clients, and on the weekend usually we do our marketing, so, we work for us … If the digital nomad is like
the dreamer that works few hours, and then spends the rest of the day travelling, … then I feel more like a
slow traveller. You change location, and you stay there maybe six months, but you still have to work. The
four hours a week is bullshit in my opinion. If you want to build something that gives you stability and is
good, you have to work”. Thus, we arrive at the emerging trend of digital nomads participating in the
market economy through self-driven and self-disciplined work.
Emerging Trend 3 Reimagination of Work Materials (re. RQ3)
Digital nomads resist the typically high barriers for new entrepreneurs to enter the market economy. No
longer does a new business venture require at the very least an office space for employees to collaborate
and clients to visit; instead, all of this can be achieved through networking events and subsequent digital
communications. For the initial meeting, we discovered that digital nomads often pick up new clients
during their travels. As one digital nomad described: “the main thing is still direct networking. You meet
people, you talk with them”. Thereafter, they can continue the relationship from the initial momentum, as
another digital nomad described: “you can still build a relationship with people even if everything is
digital. With my clients, I always have at least one phone call with my client. It doesn’t have to be video,
audio is fine, but I need to have at least one phone call with a client before I accept their job … that’s how I
establish the human connection with them, and I kind of get a sense for who they are, then the rest of the
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Fortieth International Conference on Information Systems, Munich 2019 7
time, everything’s electronic, that’s fine when they’re just writing messages to me, based on what I’ve
gotten from their personality, I can still get a feel for what it sounds like if they’re saying it to me”.
However, there are still providers that must be paid for these services; even those that are, at face value,
free of charge. Firstly, digital nomads have observed that the owners of online platforms such as
crowdsourcing and freelancing websites now have substantial power in their work practices and profit
from their work. As one digital nomad described: “Freelancers and clients have disputes and in those
situations, [the platform] always sides with the client. If I were a freelancer in that situation, I would be
pretty pissed … [and the platform] takes a huge cut of every project, which is 20% right now. It used to be
a lower rate”. Secondly, digital nomads often gravitate towards paid memberships in coworking spaces,
even if they do not need a workspace beyond a hotel desk. Such workspaces’ owners offer explicit benefits
towards digital nomads, providing an overall so-called ‘soft landing’ for such ephemeral travellers. As one
coworking space provider described: “We have a lot of events here, not only the learning event but also the
social event, also a brainstorming event. The last one we had, one of our members needed some help
finding a good name for his booking flight tickets website, and we just brainstormed together … and for all
the people who want to start their digital nomad life, we have this programme where we provide people
with accommodation, coworking membership for a month, we organise everything for them starting from
the airport pickup, even SIM card for them, because we want them to soft-land here in Bali. If they need a
motorbike, we also arrange for them”. Thus, we arrive at the emerging trend of digital nomads
participating in the market economy through the reimagination of work materials.
Emerging Trend 4 Interjurisdictional Prospecting (re. RQ4)
Digital nomadism emerges as form of refuge from the market economy’s business cycle of booms and
recessions. Monetary policies’ attempts to manage this cycle have often failed or exacerbated problems, as
was the case of the Global Financial Crisis of the late 2000s. We heard from one expat who did not seek a
life of digital nomadism but found himself there due to the business cycle: “The financial crisis hit pretty
viciously. My plan was to move to London and then base myself in Europe, but everything was sour, really
sour. I put out feelers to Australia, to London, and to the Cayman Islands. Australia said, don't even
bother because we've got so many people coming back from overseas who had lost their job, really highly
qualified finance people coming in and that's where I came up here. Ubud was never a kind of place I
wanted to focus on, I always wanted to be near the beach, but up here was a better entrepreneurial vibe”.
However, this form of resistance is neither complete rejection nor complete isolation from the market
economy and its associated monetary policies. This resistance is, rather, a nuanced response to the
realities therein. Digital nomads are in fact influenced by such things and are electing, to the best of their
abilities, to respond on their own terms. We were given the example of ‘offshoring’ by one digital nomad:
“People think of offshore jurisdictions as tax havens but they serve another purpose, which is asset
protection. All my clients were moving part of their wealth outside of the grasp of corrupt
governments”. As such, digital nomads are prospectors, who move between jurisdictions seeking to
optimise their conditions. Thus, we arrive at the emerging trend of digital nomads participating in the
market economy through interjurisdictional prospecting.
Emerging Trend 5 Unregulated De-facto Citizenship (re. RQ5)
Digital nomadism emerges as a form of circumvention around certain aspects of fiscal policies,
particularly around taxation and border control. Digital nomads typically do not pay income tax to their
host nation states because they are typically travelling on tourist visas with no work permit. It is what one
digital nomad in Bali described as “a grey zone, because we are working but we are not working in
Indonesia because we have clients all over the world”. However, this form of resistance does not
completely prevent digital nomads from contributing to public revenue. In particular, the same digital
nomads also pay for local services such as coworking space membership, and coworking spaces, being
local businesses, do in fact pay taxes. Such coworking spaces also arrange for non-monetary contributions
to the local community such as pro-bono charitable work through what one coworking space provider
labelled as a “co-giving programme let’s say, if we saw some local businesses that need some help in
marketing, or website, not a lot of people know how to start on it. So, we try to connect the members that
we know, to help the local businesses to grow”. Hence, through improvement to the local business
environment and consumption of local services, digital nomads still contribute to the host nation.
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Fortieth International Conference on Information Systems, Munich 2019 8
Digital nomads also benefit from the infrastructure paid for by nation states and their fiscal policies.
These are easy to take for granted, but their occasional breakdown causes particularly severe problems for
digital nomads who are, compared to other kinds of workers, relatively more reliant on mobility as part of
the way they do business. For example, as previously mentioned, digital nomads often conduct initial
relationship-forming meetings during physical travels and sustain the relationship thereafter through
digital communications. One digital nomad spoke about how the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in
Iceland disrupted transportation infrastructure: “the volcano in Iceland erupted and Europe was shut for
a month, there were no planes, people I was supposed to work with stuck in New York, so the deal
couldn't go through”. Therefore, the digital nomad is in many ways much like a citizen, essentially a de-
facto citizen, but unregulated due to their ambiguous legal status. Thus, we arrive at the emerging trend of
digital nomads participating in the market economy through unregulated de-facto citizenship.
Concluding Remarks Contributions and Future Directions
This research-in-progress paper has described five emerging trends in how digital nomads participating in
the market economy, based on the fundamental pillars of the market economy. The trends are identified
based on the voices of digital nomads and stakeholders whom we have interviewed in our fieldwork. The
trends illustrate digital nomadism resisting against the established norms of the market economy but also
inevitably, in some way, complying with the established norms of the market economy.
Through the development of the five emerging trends, we contribute to understanding of digital
nomadism and its implications for the market economy. In doing so, we intend to also contribute to
understanding of the market economy and its changing structure in an increasingly digital and mobile
world. For practitioners, including digital nomads, stakeholders, and policymakers, this is an important
space to learn about, since the latest trends will impact how their business is conducted. For researchers,
each of the trends in how human beings work and organise themselves represents an area of research
which is emerging and hitherto under-explored. However, given the exploratory nature of our research,
our contribution is the identification and framing of the issues at hand, rather than a complete theoretical
explanation for the antecedents of each trend, which could be an opportunity for future research.
Our research is currently being expanded to new locations seeking further interviews with digital nomads
and observations of their work practices and lifestyles, as well as online sources such as blogs and forums.
Both our data collection and the resulting analysis are still being actively developed and the trends that we
have described in this paper are tentative depending on what we discover in further stages of our research.
One of the co-authors of this paper is conducting this research with the assistance of the Commonwealth
of Australia through an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.
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... Some digital nomads explore the route of entrepreneurship and start their own enterprises (Bartosik-Purgat, 2018). Hence, some digital nomads develop the skills necessary for establishing and managing businesses (Bozzi, 2020;Wang, Schlagwein, Cecez-Kecmanovic & Cahalane, 2019). Another advantage is that digital nomads have flexible working patterns, e.g., they are not confined from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. working hours and do not have to be confined to one geographical location. ...
... Related to technology, digital nomads take advantage of the Internet, mobile technologies, cloud computing, portable hardware, cloud-based software, and online platforms (Nash et al., 2018;Ritchter, 2020). These technologies support digital nomads' ability to work remotely from any location, communicate, and collaborate with others and employers (Wang, Schlagwein, Cecez-Kecmanovic & Cahalane, 2019). The technologies, in a way, facilitate the lifestyle of digital nomads, where they are able to take up work while they travel and explore different cultures. ...
... They can travel from one location to another without the need to maintain child care and education. Similarly, people over 65 years old who have retired can participate in digital nomadism, where they can establish businesses and relocate to areas where there are more opportunities to grow their businesses (Wang, Schlagwein, Cecez-Kecmanovic & Cahalane, 2019). In some ways, digital nomads are eager to learn about the cultures and values of the communities to which they travel (Zaman, Aktan, Qureshi, Bayrakdaroglu & Nawaz, 2021).Digital nomads also organise themselves and establish communities where they work and collaborate while maintaining their independence (Chevtaeva & Denizci-Guillet, 2021;Hemsley, Erickson, Jarrahi & Karami, 202). ...
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This paper explores government strategies for promoting digital nomadism in the tourism sector. The study used the case of the city of Cape Town to analyse secondary data, e.g., government strategies and media reports using thematic analysis. The findings showed that digital nomadism has the potential to promote innovation, new ways of working, and job creation. However, there are also challenges that recovery strategies must address for digital nomadism to be successful, e.g., delays in the introduction of remote work visas and the lack of clarity about digital taxation. The study contributes to the understanding of the benefits and challenges of digital nomadism in the context of developing countries.
... In the Social dimension, we addressed elements related to the context of professional and business relationships developed in the niche of the marketplace segment [16,19] considering the underlying characteristics of communities [19], cultural tribes/travelers [6,9,10], production and commercialization of digital content [24] and socioeconomic aspects [17,18,23]. ...
... Finally, with regard to the Technological dimension, aspects of information technology (IT) platforms infrastructure [16,20,23] built to provide human resources to the labor market [17,22], communication [3], means of payment [20,23] and artifact sharing through cloud computing [20] were addressed. This dimension also includes IT resources specific to travelers, but also commonly used by DNs, including "assembling actants" [4], co-working spaces [4,25,30], and other IT infrastructure resources [4,13]. ...
... Finally, with regard to the Technological dimension, aspects of information technology (IT) platforms infrastructure [16,20,23] built to provide human resources to the labor market [17,22], communication [3], means of payment [20,23] and artifact sharing through cloud computing [20] were addressed. This dimension also includes IT resources specific to travelers, but also commonly used by DNs, including "assembling actants" [4], co-working spaces [4,25,30], and other IT infrastructure resources [4,13]. ...
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The massification of remote work, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been causing significant changes in productive and working arrangements, both for individuals, organizations, and society. At the level of personal life philosophy, for example, this transformation can be evidenced in the dissemination of digital nomadism values such as work/leisure balance among corporate workers. On the other hand, at the level of gig/crowd work platforms, the emergence of tensions may indicate the exhaustion of sociotechnical design models adopted by big techs. We show how evidence collected from digital nomads in empirical ethnography studies can inform HCI/CSCWD researchers of design-oriented strands to explore emerging opportunities in new creative digital crypto-economic ecosystems. Finally, we present a proposed research agenda to explore DNs' activities in the crypto-economic ecosystem.
... The decision of the digital nomads to choose a destination country is influenced by several important factors such as the cost of living and accommodation, the availability of adequate facilities such as internet access, transport, digital banking, entertainment, visa restrictions, security, and business communities (Wang, et al., 2019). ...
... Digital nomads work in various fields, including information technology, education training, consulting, coaching and research, sales, marketing, PR, and creative services (Wang, et al., 2019). These professions can be conducted remotely using digital tools and the internet. ...
... For the scope of this analysis, we considered factors of attraction for digital nomads when choosing future destinations: the cost of living (Thompson, 2019), internet connectivity (Richards, 2015;Green, 2020;McElroy, 2020), socioeconomic conditions (Wang, et al., 2019). ...
... This characteristic helps digital nomads alleviate their isolation feeling (Orel, 2019; Thompson 2018) as co˗living hosts promote social interactions, community events, and networking opportunities (Zumbusch & Lalicic, 2020). Several authors confirm that the search for a sense of community and like-minded people is what digital nomads primarily search for when moving to a new place (Wang et al., 2019;Fix & Lesniak, 2017;Ciolf & Lockley 2018;Thompson 2018). ...
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1. Introduction In our modern and ever-changing world, the tourism industry is continuously adapting to new trends and emergent markets. Experts and entrepreneurs in this field must ongoingly take into account many shifting factors that determine the direction of their analysis and decision-making. Therefore, this study focuses on understanding what is perhaps one of the most salient factors, as of late, of our global economy: the worldwide trend of attracting digital nomads and other remote workers to far-off destinations. Unlike remote workers who can work online, digital nomads are known for "roaming" freely with an alternative lifestyle while working and traveling (Müller, 2016). International attention is growing to satisfy these market demands with innovative spaces, such as co-living sites. Co-living is a significantly advantageous alternative that provides a balance between work, home, and social needs by offering coworking areas, high-speed internet, accommodation, and like-minded communities (Leeet al., 2019), however, co-living and its impact on rural areas have been scarcely studied. Essentially, the study seeks to investigate the fusion and mutual viability of three trends: digital nomadism, co-living, and rural development. The study's objective is twofold: to understand if co-living experiences in rural areas satisfy the needs of digital nomads and remote workers, and to identify whether having satisfying co-living experiences can promote rural development. In this way, the study will explore the three aforementioned trends by analyzing digital nomads and remote worker co-living experiences in Spain with the following research question: How can digital nomads and remote workers' co-living experiences promote rural development? 2. Methodology To accomplish the aims of the study, 18 semi-structured interviews were conducted with digital nomads and other remote workers found in Facebook and Instagram online communities from Spain. The main reason for using online communities is that digital nomads use them to communicate about destinations, taxes, living conditions, social meetings, and other relevant topics (Lee et al., 2019). Co-living hosts were also interviewed as they significantly contribute to the social integration of their guests by organizing community-building events and networking opportunities (von Zumbusch & Lalicic, 2020). Content analysis was utilized to connect main categories to the theory of sense of place and placemaking. 3. Results The study elaborates on how co-living can be pivotal for attracting these new markets to rural areas that have been mostly neglected in Spain. Main findings include co-living practices between users, interactions with the local community, barriers and opportunities for rural development, such as a standalone interest in rural tourism. Study participants demonstrated an interest in escaping urban overcrowding, reconnecting with nature, and exploring local cultures, which is convenient for developing projects, as rural areas have the socio-economic opportunity to offer immersive tourism experiences (The World Tourism Organization, 2020; Vaishar & Šťastná, 2020). 4. Conclusions By understanding these workers’ sense of place, the study provides practical knowledge for entrepreneurs and rural communities who want to establish co-living sites and tourism projects that promote sustainability in rural regions. Keywords: rural development, co-living, digital nomads, remote workers, sustainable tourism
... Supporting and cultivating remote workers' mental health, along with IT mindfulness and empowerment training in the work environment, may positively affect individual productivity, such as innovative work behavior. While our focus is on remote workers, the findings may be applicable to managing other human capital trends within the broader workforce, such as gig employees (Wang et al., 2019). Thus, this research has potential immediate and long-term implications for IS scholars and multiple organizational business functions. ...
Interpersonal interactions, such as impromptu face-to-face workplace conversations, facilitate knowledge transfer and spur innovation within individual work roles; however, the move to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted these dynamics. This research examines how innovation can be maintained in remote work settings by considering Information Technology (IT) catalysts (a combination of IT mindfulness, IT identity, and IT empowerment) during disruptive events and crises. We also highlight the importance of remote workers’ mental health and coping as precursors for IT catalysts to stimulate innovative work behaviors. Our paper contributes to information systems (IS) theory by establishing remote workers’ mental health and coping as distal factors of innovation and precursors to IT catalysts. In addition, we extend IS theory by establishing the relationships among the IT catalyst factors as well as their impact on innovative work behaviors. Our research provides insights for organizations interested in sustaining innovation, especially during crises or other stress-inducing events or conditions.
... Using a quantitative-empirical research approach, the following research question will be addressed: What challenges are perceived by expats and digital nomads in the relocation process and in what ways can different resilience factors, such as the use of external resources, help to minimize these challenges? Decidedly, the core focus of the examination within this research paper is shifted towards pragmatic challenges such as the acquisition of visas and work permits (see Hall et al., 2019;Wang et al., 2019) or financial aspects regarding the relocation process (Yavin & Reardon, 2021). ...
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The complete relocation of the center of life to a foreign country is a plan increasingly chosen by specific people, especially for entrepreneurial reasons. The digital nomads or expat-preneurs often emphasized in this context exhibit a particular structure of fundamental personality dimensions and can also be described as unique in the perception of specific challenges in the relocation process. In the present study, which is based on both a literature-based and quantitative approach, n = 196 subjects participated in an online survey that included scales and self-constructed items on personality structure, the possible choice of specific occupational groups as support systems, the perception of specific challenges, and other relevant aspects in the context of relocation. In addition to descriptive results and a brief review of previous scientific findings, multivariate analyses of variance were able to show that the choice of support system exerts a significant influence in the form of a decrease in stress in the context of the perception of specific challenges in the (tax) legal as well as financial areas. It also became clear that the region of origin and the destination region are related to assessing tax-legal aspects and administrative aspects in the economic context. Thus, there are significant differences between the Schengen Area and the U.S. area as the region of origin and these and (South East) Asia and Latin America as the destination region.
Az átalakulóban lévő foglalkoztatási struktúrák, megoldások, az egyre bővülő lehetőségek hatással vannak a munkavégzés módjára, térbeli és időbeli megszervezésére. A munkavégzés helye rugalmasabbá vált, és a technológiai fejlődésnek köszönhetően szélesedik az a réteg, akik megválaszthatják, hogy hol töltik munkaidejüket. Jelen tanulmány bemutatja, hogy a távmunkában dolgozó munkavállalók milyen feltételek mellett próbálnának ki egy olyan szolgáltatást, ahol a munkahetüket egy turisztikai desztinációban, közösségi térben tölthetnék el. Az eredményeink útmutatóként szolgálhatnak szállodatulajdonosok, -üzemeltetetők számára, azzal, hogy irányt szabnak, hogyan bővíthetik a szolgáltatásaik körét és javíthatják a minőségét. A megváltozott körülményekhez és igényekhez alkalmazkodva újfajta megoldást kínál a munkavállalók számára a munka–magánélet egyensúly problematikájának kezelésére.
The negative impact of COVID-19 on international tourism mobility generated two opposite types of discussion: one focusing on how to return to “normality,” and another on how to transform this crisis into an opportunity for redesigning tourism. Mobility restrictions have created a test scenario for teleworking, which has led to the consolidation of the number of digital nomads, describing the professional who uses digital technology and needs a high-quality Internet connection to be able to develop both a professional and a social online and offline lifestyle, while travelling. Digital nomadism represents an increasing tendency worldwide, questioning the existing forms of combining work and leisure and blurring the boundaries between mobility for work and for tourism. As a consequence of the rapid growth of digital nomadism, various destinations have refocused their marketing strategy and present themselves as “digital nomad-friendly” destinations, with ideal conditions to live and work. Urban spaces were the first to react to this new demand due to existing infrastructure standards, whereas rural territories entered the game without much preparation due to the need for escaping the pandemic’s effects, considered as isolated and safe areas.Through a theoretical perspective, this paper investigates innovation in the tourism sector in general, as it focuses on the analysis of not only a new segment of tourism but also the analysis of a new concept of mobility that challenges the conventional profile of a tourist and offers new opportunities both for rural and urban destinations. A number of emerging concepts of analysis associate coworking spaces with tourist attractions and the gender perspective within this type of mobility.KeywordsDigital nomadsTourismCoworking spacesGender
CoLiving involves facilities that combine work and life experiences, which challenge the traditional concept of home. This paper aims to map the journey of the CoLiving experience of digital nomads. The paper adopts a qualitative approach, combining content analysis of in-depth interviews with interpretation of the visual narratives of photos taken by 13 participants, who were recruited in Selina CoLive hotels. The study assessed: (RQ1) the most important information sources and communication channels that contribute to increase the awareness of CoLiving operators and destinations (awareness stage); (RQ2) the major motivators and trigger events that drive people to adopt a digital nomadism lifestyle (consideration stage); (RQ3) the selection criteria that underpin the decision to choose specific destinations and CoLiving spaces and the minimum requisites in terms of living, working and social needs (planning stage); (RQ4) the positive touchpoints that generate unique memorable emotions, which foster satisfaction and the negative ones that provoke dissatisfaction (experience stage); (RQ5) the sense of community and sense of place, resulting from the transformational experience of CoLiving are usually shared in social media, thereby generating electronic word-of-mouth (advocacy stage).
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To the extent that digital capitalism and globalization processes have been developing, the arrival of digital nomads has grown in Spain. With the pandemic, this mobility was affected to a lesser magnitude than other types of flow. In this context, this paper deals with the study of the characteristics of digital nomads and the policies developed to attract them during the health crisis. With these objectives, the research, in relation to digital nomads, has been carried out based on the analysis of different virtual platforms, social networks, portals of collaborative workspaces and specialized events. At the same time, with respect to policies, the study has been focused on visa policy and on the actions developed by destinations to boost this type of mobility. The results obtained indicate, on the one hand, that it is not a flow of privileged people but a mobility like that of tourism related to the difference in international income. On the other hand, these results point out that the consolidation of digital nomadism during the pandemic is associated to tourism policies carried out by destinations, actions that have not valued the lack of sustainability of digital nomadism.
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There is a need to fix the consequences of those changes which became the result of the Third Industrial Revolution due to the rapid technological development; these changes actually act as determin- ing factors for the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The attempt to link the explored transfor- mations, which are in fact the features of the new type of society, usually called post-industrial, infor- mation, and network, with the typical characteristics of traditional, pre-industrial societies, is of a particu- lar interest. As Bauman pointed out, "Throughout the solid stage of the modern era, nomadic habits re- mained out of favor... In the fluid stage of modernity, the settled majority is ruled by the nomadic and ex- territorial elite...", and nomadic life takes revenge over the principles of territoriality and settlement (Bauman, 2000). So, one of the transformation features is return to the nomadic way of life. Digital no- mads, possessing the same characteristics as traditional nomads, should have a specific set of handheld mobile devices, as well as continuous access to the Internet. It is necessary for maintaining a comfortable nomadic lifestyle in today's network society. A specific quality of contemporary nomads is collecting, storing and processing the data, as well as sharing and filtering the information. Network becomes the subject of inquiry by various scientific disciplines, because network is a basic characteristic of modern society. The concept of network is used as a metaphor to describe the new social quality, and as a special methodological research tool. Application of the network concept is usually associated with a set of con- straints dealing with different meanings of the term “network”. This paper aims to compare various char- acteristics of traditional and network societies, and analyze different interpretations of the “network” pro- posed by the network society research.
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We analyze the expansion of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence technologies from the perspective of economic theory. We argue that these technologies can be viewed from three perspectives: (i) as an intangible asset; (ii) as a search and matching technology ; (iii) as a forecasting technology. These points of view shed light on how Big Data is likely to affect matching between firms and consumers, productivity growth, price discrimination, competition, inequality among firms and inequality among workers.
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This paper presents a literature review and conceptual development of digital nomadism. Digital nomadism is characterised by mobile workers indefinitely travelling between different locations while continually fulfilling their work obligations. The emerging literature on digital nomadism is fragmented and primarily focused on digital nomads' lifestyles. There is comparatively less focus on theoretically framing digital nomadism into broader narratives in human history. In order to gain a holistic understanding, this paper reviews the limited literature on digital nomadism and expands to other relevant literatures on economy (e.g. traditional boundaries in business), culture (e.g. lifehacking), and technology (e.g. telework and digital communication). These three theoretical framings of digital nomadism enable this paper to identify the current state of knowledge relevant to digital nomadism and develop a research agenda.
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Much contemporary work, from knowledge to ‘gig’ work, is now digital. While digital work can be flexible and fun, it is not always ‘decent’ according to the United Nations development goal. The increased use of digital technology has the potential to both facilitate and threaten decent work; however, to date no systematic assessment exists of its impact for different types of digital workers. In this research-in-progress paper, we propose a theoretical framework differentiating four types of digital workers: Gig Worker, Digital Nomad, Nine to Fiver, and Travelling Elite. We illustrate the work-life of each with a vignette and discuss how technology can enable and constrain decent work. We propose a research design based on the diary method to outline how the role of ICTs in decent work can be studied empirically, laying the foundation for better work design in the future.
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In 1997, Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners published their future-looking manifesto Digital Nomad that, decades later, would present as a manifesto for a lifestyle movement. At the time, businesses and the US government were interested in looking at tele-commuting, productivity, and work-family balance. Critiques of a neoliberal economy provide insight into understanding the context of freelance and online, piecemeal employment. This article examines the types of employment that digital nomads engage in, based on in-depth interviews with thirty-eight self-identified digital nomads. The participants mostly originate from wealthy, industrialized nations, and have many class privileges, but are underemployed compared to what their socioeconomic status would historically suggest. As most participants are in the Millennial Generation, an overview of the shifting so-cio-economic status of this age-cohort is examined in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and the European Union-notably their high educational achievements and increasingly precarious employment status. Many of the nomads were working part-time with their own micro-business, with few able to maintain full-time employment. Few have benefits such as healthcare, retirement, unemployment insurance, or family leave. While "free-dom" is touted as the benefit of gig-work, by both industry management and digital nomad enthusiasts, this lifestyle marks a shift towards precarious employment-itself not a basis for economic freedom, nor security.
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The development of new technologies and the increasing ease of Internet access have combined to contribute to the formation of new styles of living and working. One example is the increasing trend of people choosing to become 'digital nomads' , whose lifestyle connects earning money and realizing passion for travelling and being independent. The main purpose of this paper is to introduce digital nomads as a new phenomenon within global trends of employment in the context of technological development and lifestyle changes. The paper also compares the key behaviors of digital nomads with those of entrepreneurial behaviors. The paper concludes that being a successful digital nomad necessitates having entrepreneurial behaviors.
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In the domain of digital work, a new phenomenon has emerged that is increasingly referred to as "digital nomadism". Digital nomadism involves mostly Western professionals using a range of information systems (IS) and information technology (IT) tools to work digitally over the Internet while travelling perpetually in typically exotic locations. Existing theories of reasons for IS/IT use seem to have limited applicability to digital nomadism because technological and economic aspects need to be considered jointly with sociological and anthropological aspects for a comprehensive theoretical understanding of digital nomadism. Grounded in the findings of in-depth ethnographic and digital-ethnographic research, the study presented here develops theory and generates new knowledge in regard to the justification used in digital nomadism. It answers to the research question: Why do people engage in digital nomadism? The preliminary data analysis reveals three themes that explain how people justify their engagement in digital nomadism. The theoretical analysis positions these three themes in wider value systems (orders of worth).
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This book explores the future of learning, work, and how we relate with each other in Knowmad paradigm.