Outside Insiders: Understanding the Role of Contracting in the Careers of Managerial Workers

55 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2019

See all articles by Tracy Anderson

Tracy Anderson

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology

Matthew J. Bidwell

University of Pennsylvania - Management Department

Date Written: July 19, 2019

Abstract

We explore the role that contracting plays within the careers of managerial workers. Contracting distances workers from organizational coordination and politics, aspects of organizational life that are often central to the managerial role. Nonetheless, managerial workers make up a substantial proportion of the contracting workforce. Qualitative interviews with managerial contractors indicate that the tension between the natures of contracting and managerial work means that managerial contractors carry out substantially more bounded work than do regular employees, and that this boundedness can shape the role that contracting plays in their careers. Examining the employment histories of MBA alumni of a US business school, we show that workers with fewer subordinates and greater personal demands are more likely to enter contracting. We also find that contractors report stronger work-life balance, but receive lower pay both while contracting and in subsequent regular employment. While prior research has highlighted the financial benefits and temporal demands of contracting for highly skilled workers, our findings introduce important boundary conditions into our understanding of high-skill contracting: the nature of the occupation is critical.

Keywords: Contracting, Careers, Managerial work, Contingent Work

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Tracy and Bidwell, Matthew J., Outside Insiders: Understanding the Role of Contracting in the Careers of Managerial Workers (July 19, 2019). Bocconi University Management Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3468113

Tracy Anderson (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

Matthew J. Bidwell

University of Pennsylvania - Management Department ( email )

The Wharton School
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6370
United States

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