Schulich PhD candidate recognized as a Top 25 Storyteller by SSHRC

Kam Phung
Kam Phung

Kam Phung, a Schulich School of Business PhD candidate in Organization Studies, has been named one of this year’s Top 25 Storytellers by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in its annual research communications challenge.

In his video submission, Phung tells the story of Uber’s entry into Toronto and its concurrent impact on the taxi driving occupation, highlighting how portrayals in the media stratified the occupation materially and symbolically at the cost of incumbent taxi drivers.

Kam Phung
Kam Phung

He explains how upon Uber’s entry into Toronto’s taxi driving industry, their affiliation with technology and the sharing economy created ambiguity surrounding what Uber was, and enabled key members of society to perceive and portray Uber drivers as distinct from taxi drivers despite the two engaging in the same work. However, this was to the detriment of taxi drivers.

“It’s disheartening that Toronto’s taxi drivers, who unfortunately already faced negative judgments in the media and were stigmatized by parts of society, were further negatively impacted perceptually in addition to the obvious financial impact,” remarked Phung when offering additional insight into the study.

“It was encouraging to see that Uber drivers didn’t face the same stigma as taxi drivers,” he added, “but, if anything, our research highlights that we need to figure out how to introduce technologies and innovations in a way that can be mutually beneficial to all members of society rather than at the expense of others.”

Phung’s submission was based on a SSHRC-funded study by him and his co-authors – all of whom earned their PhDs at the Schulich School of Business – that was recently published in the Journal of Management Studies.

“In conducting this research, we got to hear directly from Uber and taxi drivers about their lived experiences and how societal perceptions and portrayals of them in the media impacted their lives,” he further stated. “I’m thrilled to be recognized by SSHRC as one of this year’s Storytellers as it will serve as a launchpad to share our findings in an accessible way with a broader audience.”

SSHRC’s annual Storytellers competition challenges post-secondary students from across the country to tell a research story – in up to three minutes or 300 words – of how SSHRC-funded research is making a difference in the lives of Canadians. Each of the Top 25 received a cash prize of $3,000 and has been invited to give a live presentation at the Storytellers Showcase, which has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will now take place at the 2021 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences hosted at the University of Alberta.

The published open access paper, “When stigma doesn’t transfer: Stigma deflection and occupational stratification in the sharing economy,” by Kam Phung (York University), Sean Buchanan (University of Manitoba), Madeline Toubiana (University of Alberta), Trish Ruebottom (McMaster University), and Luciana Turchick-Hakak (University of the Fraser Valley) can be found in the Journal of Management Studies (2020), Early View.

For more on the Top 25 Storytellers, visit