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Contracting and careers: choosing between self and organizational employment

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Explores worker choices to become self-employed contractors. Adopts a qualitative method and uses data from in-depth interviews with workers from two contrasting occupational groups. Reveals five sets of factors which appear to be central to worker decision making. Contrasts the perspectives of the workers and draws conclusions relating to the impact of skill and labor market power on the choice of employed/self-employed status, and subsequent career prospects. Suggests that recent views of "boundaryless careers" are more relevant to highly-skilled groups of workers, and discusses the tensions between structural forces that constrain individuals' career autonomy and the desire of many workers to be proactive agents in the construction of their own careers. The findings suggest that a balanced examination of "new careers" should account for the complexity of a new world of work that advantages only some. Argues for greater understanding of the choice between different modes of employment rather than just occupational choice. Finally, suggests that researchers and career practitioners need to be able to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of different modes of employment from a sound knowledge base.

Keywords: Careers; Contracts; Employees; Perception; Self Employed Workers

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13620430410559142

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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