IT contracting in Ireland : are portfolio or boundaryless careers a suitable career choice for IT professionals?

No Thumbnail Available
McKernan, Elaine
Issue Date
MA Human Resource Management
Dublin Business School
Items in Esource are protected by copyright. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/copyright holder.
The demise of the traditional career is widely heralded (Arthur and Rousseau, 1996; Handy, 1994), and the advancement of traditional career paths towards non-traditional career paths due to more dynamic economic conditions and more transactional / hybrid (versus relational) psychological contracts (Rousseau, 1995) suggest that an independent approach to the career is, at times, warranted (Briscoe and Finkelstein, 2009, p 245) and as such has led to emerging viewpoints on careers. Theorists have argued that linear careers are being superseded by more flexible, adaptive career patterns such as boundaryless (Arthur and Rousseau, 1996), protean (Mirvis and Hall, 1996) or portfolio careers (Handy, 1989) which has resulted in a shift from an essentially relational agreement to a much more transactional agreement. This study examines the experiences of 42 highly skilled technical contractors in order to explore their reasons as to why they entered the contracting market and identify how they made sense of their subsequent experiences. The study adopts a quantitative method and uses data from an e-survey in which IT Contractors completed an online questionnaire. The study reveals that organisations striving to become more competitive and flexible have been advanced alongside organisational restructuring and employment change. As a result, downsizing, delayering, and a reduction of organisational cores of permanent full-time employees in favour of outsourcing and contracting out has reduced the opportunities for ongoing employment and increased opportunities for contracting (Peel and Inkson, 2004; Guest, 2004). The findings of this study also identifies that individualistic and financial motives were also integral for participant’s choices to contract. The study examines Contractors experience and identifies the attributes that are required in order to face the new career era. The outcome of this research could support IT Contractors in gaining greater value from their careers from looking at workers experiences, the advantages of their choice and the barriers they faced when taking on this form of career. Author keywords: IT contracting, contractors, contracting in Ireland, portfolio careers, boundaryless careers, psychological contract, protean mindset, careers