Varying degrees of boundarylessness? The careers of self-employed and directly employed ICT professionals in the UK and Germany

Patricia Kinsella, Stephen Williams, Peter Scott, Rita Fontinha

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    Despite growing interest in the influence of social and institutional settings on the nature of career trajectories, research into comparative differences in boundaryless careers is scarce. Informed by the Varieties of Capitalism approach, which emphasizes the embeddedness of employment practices within discrete types of capitalist market economy, and based on rich qualitative data from in-depth interviews with 32 self-employed and directly employed information and communications (ICT) professionals based in the UK and Germany, we investigate variation in their experience of, and attitudes towards, boundaryless careers. The research findings provide scant evidence that ICT professionals embrace boundaryless careers, despite working in a sector where positive engagement with boundarylessness, if it is going to be found anywhere, should be evident. The findings also point to cross-national differences; directly employed ICT professionals based in Germany are more concerned about insecurity than their UK-based counterparts. In highlighting the complex and subtle influences on how boundaryless careers are experienced and understood, the research builds on existing work which both attests to the importance of context in influencing boundarylessness and its consequences and questions an overly crude distinction between ‘bounded’ and ‘boundaryless’ careers, to emphasize the value of an approach which is concerned with understanding comparative variation in the degree of career boundarylessness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number0
    Pages (from-to)0
    JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
    Early online date5 Nov 2020
    Publication statusEarly online - 5 Nov 2020


    • Boundaryless careers
    • comparative careers
    • employability
    • ICT professionals
    • Varieties of Capitalism


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