Independent professionals and the potential for HRM innovation

Tui McKeown, Robyn Cochrane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine “black box” links between HRM innovations and organizational performance by investigating the perspective of a workforce often excluded from the HR realm. Professional Independent Contractors (IPros) play a vital role in achieving workforce flexibility and innovation. While the use of such arrangements has been examined often using a compliance-oriented lens, the authors explore the value of adding a commitment aspect. Design/methodology/approach: In total, 375 IPros working in Australian organizations completed an online questionnaire distributed by a national business support services provider. Findings: Results show organizational support significantly predicted work engagement and affective commitment. Self-efficacy, age and gender were also significant predictors. Research limitations/implications: The cross-sectional nature of this study and reliance on self-reported data limit the reliability of the findings. In addition, the findings may be specific to the Australian labor market. Practical implications: The study present the views of a difficult to reach population and the findings suggest by adopting an innovative hybrid commitment-compliance HR configuration, practitioners may positively increase desirable contractor outcomes. Social implications: Concerns that organizational imperatives for efficiency, quality and high performance will be compromised by considering the human side of non-employee work arrangements are not supported. Indeed, as previously outlined, much of the concern with the employee/non-employee dichotomy is legally based and an artefact of a system of labor law that in many settings has failed to move with the times. Originality/value: Few investigations of the impact of high commitment HRM practices have incorporated the perspective of professional, non-employees. While IPros are recipients of compliance focused contractor management practices, carefully integrated commitment-based HRM aspects have the potential to deliver positive outcomes for both individuals and organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1414-1433
Number of pages20
JournalPersonnel Review
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Commitment
  • HR strategy
  • Independent professionals
  • Quantitative
  • Work engagement

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