The (ir)relevance of human resource management in independent work: Challenging assumptions

Juani Swart, David Cross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We challenge the assumption that independent workers are not relevant to or within the remit of HRM practice and theory. Traditionally, HR focusses on the management of employees within the boundaries of the organisation. Yet, this neglects the wider role that HR can and must have in the management of human work that the organisation needs yet exists beyond these boundaries. We argue for the ‘Human’ in HRM to include independent workers. We first contextualise them, highlight the reasons for neglect, and examine and provoke three key areas. We set out the taken for granted, problematise, and then show how they are relevant, look different, or could be. Through this, we provoke exactly what HR does, where it starts and finishes, and its role in a network or ecosystem rather than purely an organisation. We close by offering ways of making this happen for both theory and practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Resource Management Journal
Early online date29 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 May 2021

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