A qualitative exploration of solo self-employed workers' career sustainability

Sjanne Marie van den Groenendaal*, Jos Akkermans, Chen Fleisher, Dorien Kooij, Robert Frans Poell, Charissa Freese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
83 Downloads (Pure)


Contemporary labor markets are characterized by rapidly growing numbers of solo self-employed workers who have their own businesses without employing employees. However, research on solo self-employment has almost exclusively focused on the decision to move into self-employment, thereby failing to consider the long-term career consequences of being solo self-employed. To complement existing research, we examined patterns of career self-management strategies among the solo self-employed in light of their career sustainability and enablers and barriers in their unique work context. We conducted 102 interviews among a heterogeneous sample of Dutch solo self-employed workers and identified four career self-management patterns: proactive crafters, adaptive crafters, survivors, and passive balancers. We found differences in their career sustainability (i.e., happiness, health, and productivity). Specifically, their happiness is overall sufficient while the level of productivity is mixed, and their health seems to be most problematic. This study contributes to the nascent scholarly literature on solo self-employment and career sustainability. Policymakers can use our findings to promote sustainable careers among the solo self-employed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103692
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Barriers
  • Career self-management
  • Career self-management patterns
  • Enablers
  • Solo self-employment
  • Sustainable career


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