The Journal of Management & Organization (JMO), an international peer-reviewed journal, will launch its special issue on “Working as a self-employed professional, freelancer, contractor, consultant … issues, questions …and solutions?” at the 2016 Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) conference in December. 

A number of papers presented at the CRSE’s Global Research Workshop on Freelancing and Self-Employment in 2015 were selected for this special issue on self-employment, which provides an international perspective on the nature, characteristics, contributions and challenges facing this important and growing group of people identified by labels from freelancer, independent professional contractor to and consultant. 

Introduced with a foreword by renowned labour economist Nigel Meager, this special edition opens with a succinct range of projections for the future of self-employment in ten years’ time – with contributions from noted international academics and futurologists, policy makers and politicians.  

This look into the future sets the scene for the seven papers which present both the challenges and opportunities of this way of working. The special edition begins with Bridge’s historical perspective of ‘Self Employment: Deviation or Norm?’ and then moves to McKeown’s suggestion of a “Consilience Framework” as one way to overcome the oft cited lack or paucity of data on self-employment. 

The investigation of real issues and problems then changes focus with an examination by Blomme, De Jager, Ward, Kelliher and Pascale’s of an ‘An Extended Person - Environment Fit Approach to Understand the Work-Life Interface of Self-Employed Workers. 

The particular legal challenges and complexities are then examined from two perspectives. The first by Wynn, presents them as ‘Chameleons at Large: Entrepreneurs, Employees and Firms - the Changing Context of Employment Relationships’ to provide insight into a world whereby new corporate structures are being developed to promote one man companies, SMEs and hybrid company/partnerships.  

The second legal perspective provides insight into the deep and far reaching nature of these challenges with Leighton’s article on ‘Professional Self-employment, new power and the sharing economy: some cautionary tales from Uber’. 

The national nuances of work is provided by Boegenhold and Klinglmair who add a distinctly European and economic side to this special issue with an empirical examination of “Independent Work, Modern Organizations and Entrepreneurial Labor: Diversity and Hybridity of Freelancers and Self-employment.”

The special edition concludes with a look at the individual and very human side with Syrett’s paper on ‘IPros and Wellbeing: An Emerging Focus for Research’ where he presents both himself as well as his extensive work experience and knowledge as an independent professionals (IPro) to call for further research into the support sources, structures and resources for those working in this form of employment.  

Overall, this special edition presents a solid and wide ranging basis for anyone wanting to know more about this neglected yet increasingly popular way of working.