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The Rise of the “Gig Economy” and Implications for Understanding Work and Workers

  • Kristine M. Kuhn (a1)


Bergman and Jean (2016) include freelancers as one of the categories of workers who are understudied in the industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology literature. This neglect is particularly striking given the attention paid by the popular media and by politicians to the rise of the “gig economy,” comprising primarily short-term independent freelance workers (e.g., Cook, 2015; Kessler, 2014; Scheiber, 2014; Warner, 2015). This may be due in part to challenges involved in accessing and researching this population, as discussed by Bergman and Jean, but it may also arise from complexities in defining and conceptualizing freelance work, as well as from misunderstandings about the nature of the work now performed by many people who are considered freelancers. Major topics of interest to I-O psychologists such as organizational attraction, job satisfaction, and turnover may seem at first glance to lack relevance to the study of workers who are officially classified as self-employed. But there is substantial opportunity for I-O psychologists and other behaviorally oriented organizational researchers to contribute to our understanding of the growing number of people who earn all or some of their income by freelancing.


Corresponding author

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kristine M. Kuhn Department of Management, Information Systems, & Entrepreneurship, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4743. E-mail:


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The Rise of the “Gig Economy” and Implications for Understanding Work and Workers

  • Kristine M. Kuhn (a1)


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