Free of charge: The Forgotten Workforce
THE FORGOTTEN WORKFORCE
Tui McKeown, Catherine Connelly & Dan Gallagher
Working Paper 13/08
In this brief practitioner focussed report we review the literature on contractors with three aims. Firstly, we set out to
succinctly document the lack of breadth and nature of the research and theory to date. Secondly, we explore the
challenges and opportunities the contract workforce poses to both the academic and practitioner and thirdly, we begin the
process of bridging the various bodies of literature on contracting to establish a shared basis for the study of the contract
workforce in a way which not only brings it to the forefront of the interface between academic, practitioner and social debate
but does so in a way that all those interested in this area can understand.
After a brief examination of the issues surrounding the definition of a contractor, we discuss the background to the new
research questions raised in our study, briefly explain the methodology of the two-perspective approach we adopted in our
exploratory research and outline the preliminary results. We conclude the report with a brief overview of future directions for
both research and discussion.
Overall our aim in this exploratory study is to provide some clear directions as to the 'right questions to ask' and the 'right
people to ask' in a way that will enhance our understanding of the nature of contract work, the relationship between
individuals who work as independent contractors and organizations who engage their services.
This paper is a work in progress. Material in the paper cannot be used without permission of the author.
DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT
WORKING PAPER SERIES
I S S N 1 3 2 7 – 5 2 1 6
The Forgotten Workforce reports on research findings about the attitudes to work of independent
contractors/independent professionals (IPros) and those that engage them.
The research has focused on face-to-face interviews with information technology contractors and
an online survey of engager businesses.
A joint project of Monash University's Social and Economic Interface Research Network
(SEIRnet), Entity Solutions and Independent Contractors of Australia.
Dr Tui McKeown is a senior lecturer in Management at Monash University
Dr. Catherine E. Connelly is an Assistant Professor at the DeGroote School of Business at
McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada
Dr. Daniel G. Gallagher is the CSX Corporation Professor of Management at James Madison
University in Virginia, USA.
THE FORGOTTEN WORKFORCE
Alternative forms and new arrangements of work are growing rapidly throughout the world yet
many of the institutions, management and expectations of work seem to remain firmly entrenched
in traditional notions of standard employment. While most seem accepting of the fact that the
workforce is increasingly made up of an array of non-standard and often dynamic arrangements
we also seem to be able to simultaneously accept the homogenising language of HRM that
productivity, creativity and the value of the workforce is to be found within notions such as
commitment and engagement – and the belief that these can only be found and developed within
the traditional arrangements of work. Further, while there is an increasing literature questioning
the values of such concepts, even for the traditional worker, the dominant view still seems
grounded in the belief that an organisation leverages the most out from a workforce where HR
practices can be applied (see for example Bolton & Houlihan, 2007; Capelli, 1999; Connelly &
What then are the implications for the world of the non-standard worker where most of the
traditional HRM policies and practices such as training and development and performance
management are generally applied very differently of or even not at all? (Stewart, 2002; Ashford,
George & Blatt 2007; Kunda, Barley, & Evans, 2002). The work arrangement of contracting adds a
further dimension to the notion of HR oversight or neglect in that here the concern generally
focuses actually on ensuring that no possibility of legally establishing an employment relationship
exists (McKeown & Hanley, 2009: Stewart, 2007).
Thus, whilst the growth of non-standard employment as a whole poses new challenges for
management as well as the individuals choosing to work in this manner, we suggest that the very
'non-employment' based nature involved in the arrangement
Unformated preview of the document: 'The Forgotten Workforce': Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9