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Joanna Octavia

Joanna Octavia is currently the Head of Programming at Asia House, working with the Business and Policy team to develop content and convene key stakeholders across government, politics, and business.

Before working at Asia House, Joanna has held various roles in government affairs, policy research and multi-sectoral stakeholder engagement in Southeast Asia. She was a Senior Public Policy Associate at Uber (Jakarta, Indonesia); Senior Researcher at the Centre for Public Policy Transformation (Jakarta, Indonesia); Analyst at Bloomberg LP (Singapore); and Research Intern at The Serco Institute (London, United Kingdom). She held the position of Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, Indonesia during her PhD fieldwork in 2019-2020, and was the Policy Lead for Sixty Two & Nation Insight's EU-funded Smart Change project.

Joanna holds a PhD in Employment Research from the University of Warwick and is an expert on the digitalisation of labour, new forms of employment, and impact of new technologies on society. Her research has been featured by the International Labour Organization, Bloomberg, The Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao, The Jakarta Post, CSIS Indonesia, and others.


Joanna's PhD explored internet use, collective bargaining, and protest movements within the informal sector of the developing world. She is broadly interested in the ways in which informal and gig workers are using and repurposing internet technologies to achieve their employment goals. A copy of Joanna's PhD thesis is available to download: Add me to the group : how informal workers organise and mobilise in the internet age. 


Policy briefs/commentaries

Octavia, J., Muhammad, P., & Maulana, M. (2022). Youth Employment in the G20 (Y20 Indonesia 2022 White Paper). Retrieved from

Octavia, J. (2020). Towards a national database of workers in the informal sector: COVID-19 pandemic response and future recommendations (CSIS Commentaries DMRU-070-EN). Retrieved from

Octavia, J. (2016). Rebuilding Indonesia’s Industrial Estates (Policy Brief 16-01). Retrieved from

Octavia, J. (2015). Unraveling Business Licensing Competitiveness in Indonesia (Policy Brief 15-01). Retrieved from

Octavia, J. (2015). Unraveling Business Licensing Competitiveness in Indonesia: A Comparative Case Study. Jakarta: Centre for Public Policy Transformation.


Octavia, J. (2021). Networks of trust: accessing informal work online in Indonesia during COVID-19. This article has been published in a Special Issue on “COVID19 and the World of Work”. Geneva, International Labour Organisation

Other publications (selected)

'Informal workers, jobs, and digital platform potentialsLink opens in a new window,' The Jakarta Post, 26 January 2022.

'Building Back Better: COVID-19 and Informal Workers in IndonesiaLink opens in a new window,' LSE Southeast Asia Blog, 15 December 2020.

'Tackling youth unemployment through skills upgradeLink opens in a new window,' The Jakarta Post, 31 May 2016.

'Indonesia's labour-intensive engine is misfiring: The Jakarta Post columnistLink opens in a new window,' The Straits Times, 2 March 2016.

'Deregulating IndonesiaLink opens in a new window,' The Jakarta Post, 13 October 2015.



"'So who are they representing?' Networks of distrust in the mobilisation of platform-based motorcycle taxi drivers in Indonesia," BUIRA Conference 2021, Alliance Manchester Business School. Manchester, United Kingdom, July 2021.

"Protests in the digital age: The organisation and mobilisation of platform-based motorcycle taxi drivers in Indonesia," CERIC Doctoral Conference 2021, Leeds University Business School. Leeds, United Kingdom, May 2021.

"Organising and mobilising informal workers in the digital age: platform-based motorcycle taxi drivers in Indonesia," International Labour Process Conference 2021, University of Greenwich. London, United Kingdom, April 2021.

"From platform work to circumventing platforms: Accessing informal work online in Indonesia," British Sociological Association Conference 2021. United Kingdom, April 2021.

“Online social networks and collective action: platform-based motorcycle taxi drivers in Indonesia,” HKU-WES International Symposium, The University of Hong Kong and Work, Employment and Society Journal. Hong Kong, September 2019.

“Gig Economy in Indonesia,” Y20 Summit 2018, AIESEC Argentina and EIDOS. Cordoba, Argentina, August 2018.

“Entrepreneurship in E-Commerce,” Asia Liberty Forum 2018, Atlas Network and Center for Indonesian Policy Studies. Jakarta, Indonesia, February 2018.

Invited Talks and Media Engagement


"Research Resilience," Digital Summer School, LSE Southeast Asia Centre (LSE SEAC) & Association of Southeast Asian Studies (ASEAS UK). London, UK, May 2021.

"Reimagining the Future of Work: Navigating the Future of Digitalisation and Innovation," Y20 2021 Indonesian Delegation Webinar, Indonesian Youth Diplomacy. Jakarta, Indonesia, March 2021.

“Jobs and pandemic: the case of Indonesia,” ANU Indonesia Project Global Seminar, Australia National University. Canberra, Australia, July 2020.

“From the Streets to the State: Mobilisation of Online Motorcycle Taxi Drivers in Indonesia,” CSIS Staff Seminar, Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Jakarta, Indonesia, July 2020.


"Covid-19 and Informal Sector Workers - Policy in FocusLink opens in a new window," Talking Indonesia Podcast, Knowledge Sector Initiative. Australia, May 2020.


'2 Million Jobless Motorbike Drivers Show Covid's Toll on Indonesia's Gig EconomyLink opens in a new window,' Bloomberg, 29 December 2020.

Awards, Scholarships and Grants

Chancellor's International Scholarship, University of Warwick (2018 - 2022)

CERIC Doctoral Conference Award - 3rd Place, Leeds University Business School (2021)

DSA2021 Conference Fund, Journal of Development Studies, Journal of International Development and the Development Studies Association (2021)

HKU-WES International Symposium Early Career Researcher Award, British Sociological Association (2019)

President's Entrance Scholarship, University of British Columbia (2006 - 2007)


Octavia, Joanna (2022) Add me to the group : how informal workers organise and mobilise in the internet age. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.