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

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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


  • WILLIAMSs_2020_cright_Varying degrees of boundarylessness

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Human Resource Management on 05/11/2020, available online:

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 477 KB, PDF document

    Due to publisher’s copyright restrictions, this document is not freely available to download from this website until: 5/05/22

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